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Will CBI arrest Jagan after interrogation?

By Vicky Nanjappa
November 03, 2011 16:32 IST
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An arrest would not only be a major embarrassment, but would also stall all proceedings of Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress. Vicky Nanjappa reports. 

Political circles in Andhra Pradesh wait anxiously for Saturday when Kadapa Member of Parliament Jagan Mohan Reddy will be interrogated by the Central Bureau of Investigation.   

Rumour mills are abuzz with news that the Central Bureau of Investigation may arrest Jagan after the interrogation on Saturday. However, the Jagan camp says it is an unlikely option since the CBI has no grounds to do so.

Jagan, who is on an Odarpu Yatra, confirmed that he would appear for questioning on Saturday. "I have nothing to do with all this and I am sure I will come out clean. Whatever has been allotted (mining) has been done by the government of Andhra Pradesh and I had no role in it. I have always maintained that I will cooperate with the investigating agency, he said.

Jagan will be questioned in connection with the illegal mining case in which Janardhan Reddy - mining baron from Bellary - is involved. The case has seen some high profile personalities including Home Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy being questioned.

A CBI official involved in the interrogation said that they would not be able to say whether Jagan would be taken into custody or not. "This is routine questioning based on proof and information that we have, and we need to verify the same to build the case," he said.

The mood in the Jagan camp, however, is sombre. Jagan is on the back foot due to the spate of cases against him.

Jagan's loyalists, however, point out that this whole episode is nothing but a witch hunt and Jagan would come out of it eventually. However, they are aware that they will need to go soft on the ruling Congress for now since the last thing they would want is an arrest of their leader.

Political observers say that Jagan will pay dearly for not having a second-in-command in his party. He has always been very dominant and the image of the party rests totally on his shoulders. Jagan has ensured that each and every aspect concerning the party - YSR Congress - is taken care of by him.

Since the time Jagan floated his party, he has created a larger than life image of himself. There is not a single candidate in the party who is capable of winning an election without the presence of Jagan and this is a well established fact. The manner in which he picked out his candidates too is an indicator that he wanted more of dummies in the party than persons who were capable of winning on their own. All these show signs of a dictatorial policy that ensure that nothing could work in the party unless he was there.

This is something Jagan's party is aware of and they hope and pray that their leader is not arrested. An arrest would not only be a major embarrassment, but would also stall all proceedings in the party. Jagan too realises the importance of him being out of jail for the survival of the party. Those who have been travelling with him say that his approach during his rallies is a completely different one.

The Congress bashing, which was so blatant a few months back, is no longer there. What remain are only veiled attacks. Moreover, the entire plan of pulling out more leaders from the Congress too has been put on hold. This is mainly due to a cat and mouse game with the Congress, who ensure that the moment Jagan acts tough, the CBI goes after him.

Jagan does understand that he still has a large part of the vote share with him in the Andhra and Rayalseema belts. At the moment there is sympathy and hence he has the voters on his side. However, the moment he is arrested the sympathy factor would last only a couple of days before it fades out completely. More importantly, the party will stop functioning without him. The only other person in the party who he would trust is his mother, but he is also aware that she would not be able to carry on the party work like him.

His legal team is burning the midnight oil and is even contemplating moving the court seeking anticipatory bail. However, they are treading very carefully on the issue since at no point do they want to antagonise the investigating agency.

Sources in the CBI have made it clear that it is a matter of routine questioning and it would be better if he cooperated. In case of any tamasha or show of power they would be compelled to carry out an arrest. Also, Jagan has been saying that he has nothing to do with the case and moving the court for anticipatory bail would only show that he is afraid or guilty.

The case on hand deals with the Obulapuram mining company case in which Janardhan Reddy is an accused. However, for Jagan this is not the only case in which he is in trouble. There are a host of other cases pertaining to disproportionate assets that are under the scanner of the CBI and he will face many more difficult situations in the days to come.

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