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Rediff.com  » News » Sekhar Reddy: From small-time contractor to mining baron

Sekhar Reddy: From small-time contractor to mining baron

December 23, 2016 19:38 IST

People who observed the way his wealth and political clout grew say his fortunes hchanged once the ruling establishment handed him control of sand quarrying in Vellore and Kanchipuram districts after 2011.
Dasarath Reddy Bhuswam/Business Standard reports.

J Sekhar Reddy, arrested on Wednesday, Dece,ber 21, after the seizure of Rs 134.5 crore (Rs 1.345 billion) in cash and 177 kilo in gold bars from his possession by income tax officials in Tamil Nadu 10 days earlier, was little known to the outside world until sworn in as a member of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam board on May 2, 2015.

One needs political clout or proximity to the powers that be to become a member of the TTD board, especially if considered for the position under the mandatory representation given to the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in it.

Normally, the recommendation under this quota come from the political establishments of these states.

As a small-time contractor in his native district of Vellore, bordering Andhra Pradesh, Reddy rose to the level of lobbying for a TTD post within four years after All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo J Jayalalithaa became chief minister in the 2011 election, using all the right connections.

He had no history of any prominent position till he became member of the temple trust board of the wealthiest Indian god, Balaji of Tirupati.

People who observed the way his wealth and political clout grew in Tamil Nadu say his fortunes had changed once the ruling establishment handed him the control of sand quarrying in Vellore and Kanchipuram districts after 2011.

Sand, being an important input in construction, was in great demand. However, that alone cannot explain the wealth Reddy is believed to have amassed within such a short span of time.

Some believe the sand business had made him big overnight, as there was centralisation of its quarrying operations in Tamil Nadu, with Reddy at its helm as a link between the business and people in government.

Some believe he was a front for big sharks in Tamil Nadu politics.

But all would agree on one thing: He overexposed his wealth and influence.

He did not find it necessary to keep a low profile when he thought he enjoyed the blessings of powerful mentors like Jayalalithaa.

He made enemies in the process. He was raided after a tip came that he had converted old currency notes into new ones in a hurry, to make the routine payouts at various levels in government.

His story sounds similar to the other mining baron from neighbouring Karnataka, Gali Janardhana Reddy, whose fate turned upside down after the sudden death of then Andhra chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, considered his political mentor.

Dasarath Reddy Bhuswam
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