Home Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy is the third minister of the Kiran Kumar Reddy cabinet to be in the dock for allegedly showing undue favours to a cement company which invested in the business of Jaganmohan Reddy, the son of then chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.
Though Jagan, as the MP from Kadapa is popularly known, has remained behind bars since May last year, the latest chargesheet shows that the worries of the ruling party are far from over. With the role of some more ministers in quid pro quo deals under the CBI scanner, the Congress party may not find it easy to get rid of the allegations that it is protecting tainted ministers who were part of the YSR cabinet during 2004-09.
The TDP and the other opposition parties are demanding that the government drop all the tainted ministers from the cabinet. “It looks as if the entire state cabinet will go to jail,” said TDP leader Revant Reddy.
The government is defending the ministers named in the chargesheets on the ground that they acted in accordance with the rules while issuing government orders and had no knowledge of what was happening behind the scenes and who the real beneficiaries were.
The CBI believes that the then YSR government allotted limestone mines and land and granted other favours to companies and individuals who invested in Jagan’s businesses as a quid pro quo. Besides the ministers, several IAS and other officers have been named in the case by the CBI.
The Congress party is also facing trouble from within, with a section of ministers and leaders who were unhappy with YSR demanding that the leadership drop all the tainted ministers. Their continuance in the cabinet, the section feels, would negatively impact the party’s prospects in next year’s elections.It questions the stand taken by the government on the issue and wonders how it can defend ministers named by the CBI while accusing Jagan of wrongdoing. “We can’t have different standards for people named as accused in the same case,” said a senior party leader.