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YS Jagan Mohan Reddy claims his arrest is politically motivated

A popular young politician in the state of Andhra Pradesh is placed in custody in connection with corruption charges that, he says, have been foisted on him for political reasons.

YS Jagan Mohan Reddy was charged with criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts. He also was ordered into judicial custody until June 11.
YS Jagan Mohan Reddy was charged with criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts. He also was ordered into judicial custody until June 11.

NEW DELHI // A popular young politician in the state of Andhra Pradesh has been arrested and placed in custody in connection with corruption charges that, he says, have been foisted on him for political reasons.

After three days of questioning, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, 39, was arrested on Sunday by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and charged with criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts. He also was ordered into judicial custody until June 11.

In the Andhra Pradesh high court yesterday, CBI's counsel said that Mr Reddy had "never cooperated in the investigation … in true sense" and that he had "hoodwinked the people of a huge sum of money."

The allegations, made in a petition filed last year by a local Congress Party politician, said that Mr Reddy had misused his proximity to power when his father, Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, was the chief minister of the state. Mr Reddy, through his father's government, distributed political favours to investors who would pay for his nascent media companies, the petition claimed.

Mr Rajasekhara Reddy, a staunch Congress party politician, died in a helicopter crash in September 2009. But when the Congress party refused to install Jagan Mohan Reddy as the chief minister in place of his father, he spun off his own party, called the YSR Congress, in honour of his father.

In the process, he took with him several Congress politicians and a chunk of the Congress' voter base.

This political split, and Mr Reddy's potential to dilute the Congress party's influence in Andhra Pradesh, has been perceived as the reasons for his arrest at this specific time, ahead of June 12 by-elections in 19 constituencies in the state. But if he is not granted bail, Mr Reddy will have no chance to campaign for his party candidates.

"Technically, enforcement agencies like the CBI do not, of course, look at election schedules as they do their work," said K Nageshwar, a Hydearabad-based political analyst and a member of the upper house of Andhra Pradesh's legislature.

"But the investigation of Jagan has been going on for eight months now, and the delay in his arrest could not really have happened without a suggestion from the Congress high command," Mr Nageshwar said. "So people on the ground are bound to be suspicious of the timing of the arrest."

Mr Reddy and his family have also been vocal in their criticism of the Congress Party.

"He is being arrested to satisfy the ego of the political high command. There was no need to arrest him when he was going to the CBI guesthouse for questioning every day," Sharmila Reddy, Mr Reddy's sister, told reporters on Sunday.

ssubramanian@thenational.ae

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