'CBI raids against me nothing but a witch hunt'
He came into political life with much fanfare but of late has been confronted by CBI raids and a slew of cases against him. Rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa speaks to YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy.
Son of late former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, Jaganmohan Reddy has been in the news ever since he quit the Congress party and formed his own party -- YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh.
Jagan's much publicised 'Odarpu Yatra' in the Andhra and Rayalseema regions had attracted large crowds. Riding high on his father's image and the sympathy factor, Jagan went around seeking the blessings of the people. However, this was cut short, for a while, with the Central Bureau of Investigation launching a series of raids against him.
Even when former Karnataka minister and mining baron, Janardhan Reddy was arrested, it was seen as a ploy to curb Jagan, who is said to be close to the Bellary Reddys.
However, Jagan continues to appear confident and calm, and states that the CBI raids are nothing but a witch hunt. He says God is the final judge. While on his yatra, Jaganmohan Reddy says that the next government in Andhra Pradesh will be formed by him and no amount of raids can deter his chances. He says that people know by now that the raids are only being conducted out of malice, since the Congress is worried about his growth.
"My father was a great source of support to me and he is the one who brought the Congress to power in the state. Until I was there in that party, my father was a great man, but today that I am out, he has become a villain in the eyes of the Congress. The entire state knows what he has done for development and no amount of bad mouthing by his opponents can take that away from him," says Jagan.
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Image: YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy
'My businesses are clean. I'm open to investigation'
"In politics each one has to face a lot of hardship and I am prepared for it. There is a witch hunt on against me and it is just a matter of time before the truth comes out. I am not worried about the CBI arresting me. I know all my businesses are clean and during the course of the probe, the CBI will also get to know that.
"In this state, I wonder whether there is an opposition at all. At the moment I am playing the role of the opposition since the Congress and the Telegu Desam Party appear to have joined hands to fight me. It is a strange situation, but as I said, I am prepared for everything and it was expected that they would try to stop my growth. At the end of the day what matters is the love and support of the people.
"I doubt whether the CBI raids would result in my arrest since I have enough proof to show that all the ventures in that I am involved in are clean.
"The CBI has not called me for questioning, but I am open to any investigation. Today they are targeting my father in connection with the Emaar case (an alleged scam where land was sold at rates below the market price) when everyone knows that it was Chandrababu Naidu (TDP chief) who cleared that project when he was the chief minister.
"This probe is aimed at not only ruining my political prospects but also creating troubles for my investors. However, I maintain that all investments were legitimate and this can be proven at the right time."
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Image: One of YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy's properties that were raided by CBI
'Congress is after me since they fear me'
"The allegations are endless and it is being said that I had taken money and my companies had benefited when my father was the chief minister. They speak about the Sandur Power Company that has an investment of Rs 150 crore. The fact is that the clearance for this project was given much before my father became the chief minister. I have heard a lot of allegations that I may try and destroy the evidence. It is an unfair statement made against me. The CBI itself has not come up with any concrete evidence against me as yet and they are yet to call me for questioning," Jagan said.
About the future of his party, Jagan says that it will go far and he has the confidence that his party will emerge victorious. "The people will cast their vote for me and today they all realise that the Congress is after me since they fear me. Let all this continue because at the end of the day it will only help us go strength to strength," he says.
"I am confident that my party will win 240 seats in AP. Many surveys have indicated the same. The love that I get from the people makes me sure. I connect with the masses at the grass-root level and they do understand that I am here not only for their votes but since I am genuinely concerned about them," he added.
On a question whether he may return to the Congress, Jaganmohan Reddy says that it is not a possibility. "I am not thinking of anything of that sort and there will be no pre or post poll alliances with the Congress either. I am not thinking of alliances since I firmly believe that we will win the 2014 elections with a majority and would not need any support. This is not arrogance, but this is confidence that my people have given me."
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Image: YSR chief Jagannohan Reddy
'Cong does not have a leader who can draw crowds and get votes'
"I know I am being accused of making the Congress weak and they blame me for the recent spate of resignations. You are free to ask any of them whether I have asked them to resign. I have not even been in touch with them. Most of them are upset with the fact that the Congress has been targeting my father. They know what my father had done for the party and they will not take unwanted allegations against him.
"I guess these members of legislative assembly too were hurt and hence they came out of the Congress. How much can they sit and listen to the allegations against me and my father.
"The Congress should realise that they have only more to lose if they continue to accuse and try and crush me. Many of the MLAs in the Congress have won only on the name of my father. They too realise that by staying on in a party that is accusing him, they only have a lot to lose out at the end of it," Jagan says.
On the current strength of the Congress, Jagan points out that he does not think too much about it. "I know that Chiranjeevi (Praja Rajyam Party chief) has joined them. What I have seen of him is that he is able to pull crowds and not votes. The Congress does not have any leader today who can pull votes leave alone a crowd."
Speaking on the controversial Telangana issue, Jagan says that it is up to the party in power to decide on that. "I am not in touch with any of the Telangana leaders. They feel humiliated by the Congress and hence there is such a split in the party on the issue," he concludes.
Image: Jagan unveils a statue of his father at Ichapuram