The Rs 500 cr ‘Rushikonda palace’ controversy and allegations against Jagan

The TDP alleges that the Visakhapatnam hilltop ‘palace’ with a sea view, allegedly built at a cost of Rs 500 crore, has been disguised as a tourism project but was primarily intended for YSRCP chief Jagan’s personal use.
The hilltop property being redeveloped in Visakhapatnam
The hilltop property being redeveloped in Visakhapatnam
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Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister and president of the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) Jagan Mohan Reddy has been accused of building a hilltop ‘palace’ with a sea view in Visakhapatnam allegedly at a cost of Rs 500 crore to suit his ‘personal needs.’ The resort – now dubbed ‘Rushikonda palace’ – was meant to promote state tourism but has come under scrutiny for its opulence.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which recently formed the government, is aggressively campaigning against Jagan for spending from the state exchequer for his personal use. The TDP is questioning which public would the resort accommodate by splurging money on a luxurious bathtub, designer furniture, and high-end spa rooms. The resort has 12 bedrooms and huge meeting halls.

The TDP alleges that the palace has been disguised as a tourism project but was primarily intended for Jagan’s personal use. In 2021, the YSRCP government had announced the redevelopment of the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) run Haritha resort on Rushikonda Hill to turn it into a major tourist attraction. Former tourism minister and YSRCP leader RK Roja had inaugurated the redevelopment project. About 9.88 acres of the resort has since been restricted to the public, with the government claiming ongoing development work.

The YSRCP, however, justifies the expenditure claiming that the facility was being constructed to house dignitaries such as the Prime Minister, President, Chief Minister or others who visit Visakhapatnam. The party says the resort had to be redeveloped because Visakhapatnam was destined to be the executive capital.

The Rushikonda palace ‘exposé’ was done by Bheemli MLA and former minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao who visited the resort recently along with TDP leaders and a battery of media personnel. The TDP soon shared images from the luxurious facility to expose the alleged wrongdoings by Jagan. The resort had earlier grabbed attention as it was constructed in secrecy by excavating the foothills of the hillock. Previously, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and Deputy CM Pawan Kalyan were prevented from entering the resort when they visited it intending to assess the damage.

“The luxuries and comforts provided to Jagan Mohan Reddy at the Rushikonda Palace is alarming. Among the highlighted expenses are a bathtub worth approximately Rs 40 lakh and a commode valued between Rs 10 and 12 lakh. Additionally, the palace reportedly features a plethora of luxurious furniture and even a spa room equipped with a high-end massage table,” TDP spokesperson Pattabhi Ram Kommareddy told the media on Wednesday, June 19.  

As per official state records, buildings were being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 356.4 crore.

YSRCP has denied claims that the palace was meant for the CM. “The buildings in Rushikonda are government-owned assets and not private property. They do not belong to anyone. These buildings were constructed keeping in mind the priority given to Visakhapatnam by the previous government. It is up to the present government how to use them,” the party said in a statement.

Accusing the TDP of ‘maligning’ Jagan Mohan Reddy, YSRCP leader Kanumuri Ravichandra Reddy said, “You are diverting people’s attention. This is not required. The people have given you (TDP) a huge mandate, so focus on fulfilling the promises made in the election manifesto.”

The Haritha resort and the Rushikonda palace have also come under scrutiny for potentially violating environmental norms. Retired bureaucrat EAS Sarma wrote to the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change and urged it to revoke the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance given to the project.

Responding to the allegations, Andhra Pradesh Congress president YS Sharmila, who is Jagan’s sister and political rival, said, “If the people’s money has been spent on Rushikonda palace, then it is not excusable. People should know why it was used. If an enquiry is conducted into this by a sitting judge, the truth will come out and if needed, action should be taken. The YSRCP government had taken debt to the tune of Rs 8 lakh crore and spending money like this is not excusable.”

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