YSR Congress chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy was on Sunday arrested by the CBI after nearly 21 hours of questioning over three days in a disproportionate assets case.
The 39-year-old Kadapa MP, who rebelled and left the Congress in Andhra Pradesh, was booked for criminal conspiracy, forgery, criminal breach of trust, falsification of accounts under the Indian Penal Code as well as under sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Efforts to produce Reddy before a magistrate were being blocked by a dharna by his family at the Dilkusha guesthouse — the CBI’s temporary office.
Reddy heads a massive business empire, ranging from power generation to newspapers and TV.
The CBI registered an FIR against Reddy and 73 others in August 2011. They were accused of helping companies get benefits from the Andhra government — during his father late YSR Reddy’s rule — in return for investments in his companies. Three chargesheets were filed against Reddy and others this year.
The arrest could spark a groundswell of sympathy for Reddy ahead of the June 12 bypolls to one Lok Sabha and 18 assembly seats. “We will sweep the polls now. He is the first chief minister’s son in the state to be arrested,” said a senior YSR Congress leader.
Ruling Congress leaders said the arrest could be advantageous to Reddy but the bypoll results or possible defection of party MLAs won't pose a threat to the government.
Even if the Congress were to lose all the 18 bypoll seats, it would still have a tally of 162 along with allies and command a majority in the 294-member assembly.
The Congress appears to have taken a gamble in which it will concede the first round to Reddy, but tire him out before the 2014 assembly elections by taking him on politically and pursuing the corruption cases against him.
YSR Congress leader Jupudi Prabhakar appealed to party workers to maintain calm after the arrest, but the state was on a security alert. Police were out on the roads in Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and Tirupati and had cordoned off vulnerable targets, including the homes and offices of Congress leaders.