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AP excise minister's arrest leaves colleagues in jitters

By Mohammed Siddique
May 24, 2012 21:12 IST

The arrest of the Andhra Pradesh Excise Minister Mopidevi Venkatramanna by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the disproportionate assets case involving YSR Congress president YS Jaganohan Reddy has the potential to plunge the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh in to a deep crisis.

The portents are grim for five more ministers who have already been issued a show cause notice by the Supreme Court for their alleged role in irregularities committed in issuing GOs to benefit the companies of Jaganmohan Reddy.

Names of senior ministers, including Sabita Indra Reddy and Dharmana Prasad Rao, also figure in this list and there was a strong possibility of the CBI shifting its focus on their role in the matter.

Like Venkatramanna these minister also held important portfolios in the previous government headed by YS Rajasekhara Reddy and their respective departments had issued GOs, which ended up benefitting Jagan's firms.

The CBI, in its custody petition for Venkatramanna, alleged that the minister had misused power in issuing a GO in June 2008 as the then minister for ports and infrastructure allotting lands to Vodarevu and Nizampatnam Port and Industrial Corridor and exempting the land from registration and stamps duty. The same company later made huge investments in the firms owned by Jaganmohan Reddy.

The CBI, which has already arrested a senior Indian Revenue Service official KV Brahmanand Reddy and Vanpic promoter and industrialist Nimmagadda Prasad, grilled the minister in the duo's presence.

Observers say that Venkatramanna's fate has left the other ministers immensely worried about their future.

They are already reaching out to Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy seeking his intervention to save them from ignominy of being summoned by the CBI and possible arrest.

The ministers's role has come in to sharp focus after the IAS officers strongly protested that while members of their fraternity were being arrested by the CBI for carrying out the orders of the political bosses, no action was being taken against the ministers.

Apart from the six ministers, the Supreme Court has also issued notices to several other IAS officers. Two IAS officers -- V Srilakshmi and BP Acharya -- have already been arrested by the CBI on charges of corruption in connection with Emaar Properties and illegal mining cases dating back to YSR regime.

Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad