The Telugu Desam Party and other opposition parties have gone for the jugular as the ministers in the dock were all key portfolio holders under YS Rajashekhar Reddy regime. Mohammed Siddique reports.
A major political storm has been brewing in Andhra Pradesh over the issuance of notices to six senior ministers and several IAS officers in connection with the disproportionate assets case against YSR Congress president and member of Lok Sabha YS Jaganmohan Reddy.
Grabbing the opportunity, the main opposition -- Telugu Desam party is planning to make things difficult for both the Congress and the YSR Congress in the days to come and also exploit the issue in the ongoing campaign for seven assembly bye-elections in the state.
The Telugu Desam Party has already made its intentions clear by threatening to boycott the "tainted" ministers in the current budget session of the assembly if Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy did not dismiss them immediately.
The TDP and other opposition parties have gone for the jugular as the ministers in the dock were all key portfolio holders under YS Rajashekhar Reddy and played a major role in several controversial decisions at the time, which benefited YSR's son YS Jaganmohan Reddy.
The assembly on Monday witnessed heated exchanges between the TDP and the treasury benches. "Will it be a matter of pride for the government if these people were arrested as ministers," asked senior TDP member Gali Muddu Krishnamma Naidu. "If things continue like this, we will soon have a cabinet meeting in Charlapally jail", he said.
Another TDP member D Umamaheshwara Rao expressed apprehension that if the ministers continue in power, files in secretariat will not be safe and they can change the papers.
Another legislator Jayprakash Narayan of Lok Satta, a former IAS officer, expressed surprise on how the government could try to avoid a debate on the issue of corruption at a time when the IAS officers were in jail and the CBI was investigating the corruption cases in the state. "It is not appropriate for the government to hide behind the argument that the matter was under investigations," he said.
Trouble in Congress
The Supreme Court notices, issued on a petition filed by a Nellore based lawyer P Sudhakar Reddy, have also provided ammunition to the dissidents within the Congress party.
Party MP from Guntur, Rayapati Sambasiva, was openly gloating over the development and went to the extent of demanding Supreme Court supervision of the CBI probe against the ministers. Rao said he does not have faith that merely issuing notices will ensure justice.
Another known dissenter and senior legislator J C Divakar Reddy said the ministers should pass the "agni pariksha" and prove their innocence.
The Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, however, continued to defend the minister. "The notices to the ministers are different and the case of Jagan's disproportionate assets is different," he said rejecting the opposition's demand for the dismissal of the ministers.
He said that the CBI was conducting an independent probe and it was not in the control of the state government.
Defending the ministers he said that the Supreme Court had only issued notices and not found anybody guilty.
The timing of the development could not have been worse for the chief minister, as it came when he was facing a litmus test in the bye-elections to the seven assembly segments. Though Kiran Kumar Reddy was confident that the notices will not have an impact on the bye-elections, the TDP was hell bent upon raking it up as another proof of the rampant corruption in Congress rule.