Hyderabad: YSR Congress chief and Kadapa MP YS Jagan Mohan Reddy was questioned for more than seven hours in connection with the disproportionate assets case by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in Hyderabad even as thousands of his supporters laid siege of the city forcing the police to clamp prohibitory orders in the Andhra Pradesh capital. He will be questioned again on Saturday from 10:30 AM.
Jagan, who went inside the CBI headquarters in Hyderabad a little before 11 AM, came out at around 6:20 PM, and addressed the media and his supporters. He said that some clarifications were sought by CBI, which he gave.
"I have been asked to come again tomorrow 10:30 AM to give further reply. I answered CBI whatever questions were put to me. I will give them further clarifications tomorrow," said Jagan.
The CBI questioned Jagan on the Vadarevu and Nizampatnam Ports and Industrial Corridor (VANPIC) deal in the presence of industrialist Nimmagadda Prasad and senior bureaucrat KV Brahamandna Reddy who are already under arrest.
Prasad is the promoter in the VANPIC deal and allegedly invested Rs 850 crore in the business of Jagan for land allotment made to the VANPIC project by the then YSR regime on quid-pro-quo basis. The CBI had on Thursday arrested Andhra Pradesh Excise Minister Mopidevi Venkataramana in connection with the VANPIC project.
Prohibitory orders were issued in Hyderabad as policy feared that Jagan's supporters could go on the rampage if he was arrested. His anticipatory bail petition was rejected on Thursday by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, hours after the CBI arrested Venkataramana.
Security had been strengthened security in and around the Dilkhusa Guest House where a large number of police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel were deployed. The Raj Bhavan route, which leads to the guest house , was barricaded and a lot of traffic restrictions were imposed.
The High Court as well as the CBI had turned down his pleas seeking exemption from appearing before the agency till June 15 due to his engagement with the by-polls campaign.
The prohibitory orders under Indian Penal Code Section 144 banning assembly of five or more persons came into force at 6 am on Thursday. Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anurag Sharma said the orders would be in force till May 29, a day after he is scheduled to appear in the CBI court. A large number of police personnel have been deployed all over Hyderabad to prevent any untoward incident.
There will be no permission for meetings, rallies and processions during the period. Police have launched checking of vehicles and frisking of people, especially at the entry points into the city.
The police commissioner said they had reliable information that "in view of forthcoming by-elections certain political parties are likely to organise large number of supporters in Hyderabad city limits, taking advantage of some local events to derive political advantage." In the emotionally charged atmosphere, large-scale mobilisation of people is likely to adversely affect maintenance of law and order, the police chief said.
Jagan has alleged that the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party along with the CBI are conspiring to arrest him and then create a law and order problem to postpone the June 12 by-elections to one Lok Sabha and 18 Assembly constituencies. In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Jagan alleged that a conspiracy had been conceived to trigger riots after his arrest and put the blame on him.
"Important thing is that they want me to be arrested. They are creating a law and order situation against me because it is very clear that the Congress is going out," Jagan said while speaking to CNN-IBN Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai.
The CBI, in its charge sheet filed against Jagan and 12 others on March 31, 2012, accused Jagan and his father of hatching a conspiracy to defraud the government with Jagan influencing his father Rajashekhara Reddy in doing out certain favours to various investors, who made investments of several crores into Jagan's businesses as a quid-pro-quo arrangement.
Jagan has become a big problem for the Congress and the TDP in the state since breaking away from the former and floating his own party. His YSR Congress is gaining in popularity across Andhra and many Congress MLAs, MPs and leaders are expected to switch side after the June 12 by-polls to 18 Assembly and one Lok Sabha seat.
Surveys indicate a massive victory for Jagan's party in the by-polls as the Congress is on the downswing and the TDP is also not doing too well. Jagan's party is cutting into the votebanks of both the Congress and TDP and the two parties have no leader to counter the YSR chief.
The Congress game plan is to arrest Jagan and prevent the decline of the party in the state, where it had done very well in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. The party wants to charge Jagan in many cases and scare away his supporters. The party is also likely to get a few Congress ministers arrested too in the disproportionate assets case and make it look like a fair investigation.
(With additional information from PTI)