YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy on Monday said he was an “honourable man” till the death of his father YS Rajasekhara Reddy, indicating that his split with the Congress after his father’s death was the reason why he was accused in dozens of corruption cases.
In response to a question on the pending corruption cases filed against him over the past decade, Mr Reddy told, “I was an honourable man until my father was alive, my father was also an honourable man until he was alive as the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh”.
Mr Reddy broke away from the Congress and formed his own party in 2009 after his father, then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, died in a helicopter crash. He said the cases, filed when the Congress-led UPA was in power at the Centre, were “politically motivated”. The petitioners, he said, were “Congress and TDP politicians”.
Mr Reddy was speaking during a foot march to demand “special status” for Andhra Pradesh — something he claims Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu — an NDA ally — has failed to deliver.
Last week, Mr Naidu’s ruling Telugu Desam Party or TDP pulled its two ministers out of the central government over the “special status” demand.
While Mr Naidu threatened to pull out of the NDA, the pause since has pushed critics to say that the tug of war with the Centre over the special category demand was an exercise in optics meant for voters in the state, since Jagan Mohan Reddy is being seen as championing the cause. Mr Reddy has been vocal on the issue and has even dared Mr Naidu to pull out of the NDA if he was sincere about the demand.
The ruling TDP has alleged that Mr Reddy’s agitation for special status is at the behest of the BJP, in exchange for central laxity on the cases against him.
Special status entails a host of economic benefits and central grants, which is given to disadvantaged states. It was promised to Andhra Pradesh by then UPA government when Telangana was carved out in 2014, leaving the state in deep revenue deficit.
Mr Reddy, once one of the richest lawmakers had disclosed assets worth Rs. 416 crore. But after the death of his father, he was named in a number of corruption cases. He has been accused of putting pressure on individuals and firms to invest crores in his businesses as a “quid pro quo” for favours bestowed on them between 2004 and 2009, when his father was the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.
Mr Reddy told that the Centre was going soft on Mr Naidu, who, he alleges, is embroiled in corruption. “We have a CM who is blatantly involved in corruption in Andhra. Nothing is spared by him – from sand to mud to liquor to power and coal. His only exemption is that the central government link he has”, he said.
As further proof to rebut claims of a backroom deal with the BJP, Mr Reddy says he is determined to go ahead with a no-confidence motion against the centre in the ongoing session of parliament, in protest against the refusal to grant special status to Andhra Pradesh.