Naidu Placed in Judicial Custody as TDP Gears Up for Bandh

Naidu Placed in Judicial Custody as TDP Gears Up for Bandh

Vijaywada - A day following his apprehension in a case involving alleged corruption within the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation, N Chandrababu Naidu, the leader of the Telugu Desam Party and former Chief Minister of the state, has been remanded to 14 days of judicial custody.

Naidu, who serves as the leader of the opposition in the Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly, appeared before the court of the third additional sessions judge for anti-corruption bureau cases in Vijayawada early on a Sunday morning. This followed nearly 10 hours of questioning by the state Crime Investigation Department (CID). The CID has designated Naidu as accused number 37 in this case.

Amid heightened security in Andhra Pradesh, especially in Vijayawada, preparations were made to transfer Naidu to Rajahmundry Central Jail, with his legal team planning to approach the state high court on Monday morning to request house arrest on grounds of security concerns. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has also announced a statewide bandh for Monday.

In their remand report, the CID stated that Naidu had been uncooperative during the interrogation. Despite arranging a helicopter for his transportation from Nandyal, where he was arrested, to Vijayawada, Naidu refused and chose to travel by road, with his convoy often impeded by agitated TDP supporters. The CID perceived this as an attempt to intimidate law enforcement officials due to his position. The report noted, "He was questioned about the note files, which are part of the case evidence. However, he was uncooperative, providing vague and non-recallable responses. The report was drafted in the presence of mediators and duly attested by him."

Simultaneously, the CID filed a petition in the anti-corruption bureau court in Vijayawada, seeking police custody of Naidu for further questioning.

The ACB court granted Naidu certain privileges at the Central Jail, including access to home-cooked meals, medication, a special room, and adequate security arrangements.

The allegations date back to 2014 when, shortly after assuming office after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, Naidu's TDP government proposed the creation of the APSSDC to enhance employability skills for students in non-professional courses and promote entrepreneurship. The CID alleges that Naidu orchestrated the transfer of public funds from the government to private entities through shell companies, with no actual delivery or sales of items on invoices. Some funds were purportedly diverted to establish "centers of excellence" in deviation from official procedures. N Sanjay, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of CID, stated, "Naidu possesses exclusive knowledge of the transactions leading to the issuance of government orders and memoranda of understanding, making him a central figure in the investigation. Key documents related to the case are missing, and Naidu and others are the primary suspects."

In its remand report, the CID termed Naidu the chief architect and conspirator in the alleged corruption case, with an estimated magnitude of ₹371 crore. Sanjay also suggested that the misappropriation could potentially reach ₹550 crore.

Naidu vehemently denied the allegations, stating, "The police came last night and created a fuss. When I asked them to show proof of any wrongdoing, they failed to do so. The ruling party is very keen on framing false charges against me."

This arrest coincides with concerns among YSR Congress Party insiders, led by Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, that the TDP may be gaining traction in the state according to political surveys. While the party questions the accuracy of such surveys, citing past inaccuracies in predicting election results months in advance, several senior party members have voiced concerns in their respective areas.

TDP supporters held protests in various parts of the state on Sunday, observing a one-day fast. Party leaders alleged they were prevented from doing so in parts of Prakasam, Tirupati, and East Godavari districts. TDP national spokesperson Prem Kumar Jain remarked that Naidu's arrest reveals the "mentality" of the Jagan Mohan Reddy government and suggested that the widespread protests indicate Chandrababu's popularity.

Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy was reportedly on a personal trip to London and is expected to return to the state on Monday. Nevertheless, his party maintains that Naidu's arrest follows a proper investigation and is legitimate. Senior YSRCP leader and Rajya Sabha member V Vijayasai Reddy expressed on a social media platform, "Why should Chandrababu Naidu not be punished? The Raavan of organized corruption, money laundering, and looting AP should be ended." On Saturday, Reddy asserted that Naidu committed multiple offenses during his tenure, and the CID and ACB possess sufficient evidence to substantiate the case against the former Chief Minister.

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