HYDERABAD: The stage is set for a showdown between the CBI and Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy Friday with the Kadapa MP taking the road from Guntur to Hyderabad in a convoy of 25-30 vehicles for his questioning by the agency in the illegal assets case.
At the end of a hard day on the stump in Guntur, Jagan got into his SUV at Karampudi in the evening for the long drive to Hyderabad. He reportedly reached his Lots Pond residence in the capital late at the night.
The state police stood on alert, having made arrangements to put down any exuberance by his supporters when he turns up at the CBIâ€™s doorstep. Given his style of functioning, which often has a surprise element to it, one does not know what CBI joint director V V Lakshminarayana will be up to in the next few days.
On the other hand, a frantic last-minute effort by the MP to evade arrest by filing for interim anticipatory bail came to nought Thursday, with the Special CBI Court rejecting his petition.
However, the MP has one more chance: a second petition seeking anticipatory bail will be heard on May 28, the day he is to appear in court.
Jagan has been served notice under Section 41(A) to appear before the CBI. However, his arrest appears unlikely. During the course of the interrogation Friday, in case the CBI feels that Jagan may try to intimidate witnesses or if he does not cooperate with the CBI or may abscond, it has the option of arresting him. Legal experts, however, said that since Jagan appears to be cooperating with the agency, the chances of his arrest appear minimal.
Jagan is expected to present himself to the CBI at 10.30 am. This will be his second time facing the agencyâ€™s questions; the first was in connection with the Obulapuram mining scam a few months ago.
Lakshminarayana will lead the quizzing. A detailed questionnaire has been prepared with queries aimed at nailing down Jaganâ€™s version of how his media companies allegedly benefited from favours granted to Vanpic project.
Sources in the Jagan camp said their leader has rehearsed his answers well. He is likely to stonewall, while replying in the soft, bedside manner that he adopted when he was grilled by Lakshminarayana -- whom he addressed as â€˜Annaâ€™ -- in the Obulapuram case. His stance is likely to run along the lines of â€˜I wasnâ€™t in the government. I gave no instructions of any sort to any bureaucrat or minister. I was nowhere in the picture.â€™
A source close to the MP said, â€œTo many of the questions, Anna has decided he just wonâ€™t answer.â€™â€™ In fact, he might even pose counter-questions to Lakshminarayana. In the Obulapuram grilling, Jagan is said to have advised the agency to first probe the role of TDP president Chandrababu Naidu in the mining scam.
Though a detailed questionnare has been drafted, sources said it is quite likely the session wonâ€™t take much time. Senior police officers said they expect the MP to arrive at the CBI office in a convoy as a show of strength and plan to put down any overenthusiasm by his supporters.
Preparatory to D-Day, senior police officers met to discuss the fallout of a possible arrest. Instructions have been sent to all SPs to step up vigil at the residences of Congress leaders, particularly former minister P Shankar Rao, the man whose public interest litigation led to this pass.
A senior IPS officer said nerves are stretched taut in the state police. â€˜â€™The inputs are not pleasant is all I can say. Therefore, we are making our own arrangements.â€™â€™ Checkposts are being erected at all entry points to the city and take into custody anyone who appears to be a Jagan sympathizer.