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Cong divided over YSR chopper crash

Was it an accident or a conspiracy? The debate continues nearly 50 days after former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy was killed in a helicopter crash.

india Updated: Oct 20, 2009 18:54 IST

Was it an accident or a conspiracy? The debate continues nearly 50 days after former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy was killed in a helicopter crash.

The ruling Congress party appears divided on the question, just as it stands vertically divided on whether YSR's son YS Jaganmohan Reddy should be made the chief minister.

Chief Minister K Rosaiah on Tuesday said the agencies investigating the September 2 helicopter crash were also probing the sabotage angle.

"Immediately after the crash, we all thought it was an accident. But since some people are expressing doubts, the facts have to be brought out. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) are also looking into this angle," the chief minister told reporters.

A section of leaders, especially those considered loyal to YSR and his son, have expressed doubts that it was an accident.

Senior Congress leader Ambati Rambabu asked the government to probe how and why YSR was allowed to fly in a 14-year-old Bell 430 helicopter, when there was a new AW 139 chopper for the chief minister.

Former home minister K Jana Reddy has also demanded a probe into the accident by both the state and central governments.

The debate was triggered after Sakshi, a Telugu daily and news channel by the same name owned by Jaganmohan Reddy, carried a story that a conspiracy might have led to the crash.

The Congress central leadership, however, appears unhappy over this debate.

"This rumour mongering and speculations should stop. We lost a very senior leader in a tragic accident," central leader and party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi has said in Delhi.

Lok Sabha member from Nizamabad Madhu Yaskhi has demanded that state Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy and government advisor KVP Ramachandra Rao should quit owning moral responsibility for the accident.

"Whether it was an accident or sabotage will be known during the investigations being carried out by different agencies. Action will be taken only after the agencies submit their reports," said Sabita Indra Reddy.

She pointed out that the Crime Investigation Department (CID) and a two-member committee formed by the state government were also probing the incident.

YSR, his special secretary, chief security officer and two pilots were killed when their chopper crashed in bad weather over a hillock in Kurnool district. The chief minister was on his way to Chittoor district.