The CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) has booked YSRCP MP Raghurama Krishnam Raju in connection with an alleged loan default case, officials told PTI. The agency is carrying out searches at around 10 locations in connection with the case, they said.
The CBI in a press release said that the case has been registered based on a complaint from Punjab National Bank, against the borrower, a Secunderabad-based private company and others, for allegedly causing a loss of approximately Rs 826.17 crore to Punjab National Bank and other consortium banks. In the complaint, it was alleged that the accused had cheated the bank by siphoning off bank funds.
Searches are being conducted at 11 locations including at Hyderabad, Mumbai and West Godavari in Andhra Pradesh (where the rebel MPâ€™s constituency is located), at the office and residential premises of the borrower company and other accused persons, the press release said.
Kanumuru Raghurama Krishnam Raju, who represents the Narsapuram Lok Sabha constituency in Andhra Pradesh, has been speaking against the ruling YSRCP regime over the past few months. He had been holding lengthy press meets with Telugu news channels, criticising the policies of his own party.
According to reports, searches have been conducted at the MPâ€™s properties in Hyderabad on Thursday. The Times of India reported that the searches are related to a bank fraud worth Rs 826 crore, related to ten accused persons who were already booked by the CBI, linked to a company named Ind-Barath Thermal Power Limited (IBTPL). The accused had reportedly defrauded various banks, including Punjab National Bank, of nearly Rs 800 crore.
The CBI had also conducted searches on the Narsapuram MP in April 2019. Last year, when the CBI had recorded the MPâ€™s statement, it was reported that the power company Ind Barath was reportedly sanctioned a loan of Rs 2,655 crore loan by three non-banking financial corporations (NBFCs) -- Power Finance Corporation Ltd, Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd and India Infrastructure Finance Corporation Ltd -- to set up a thermal power project.
The firm was then accused of defaulting on about Rs 600 crore of the loan amount, and the MP had said at the time that his company could not repay the loans due to losses.
MP Raghurama Krishnam Raju has been at odds with the party ever since he started questioning the policies introduced by his government. The rift initially started as a public spat between Krishnam Raju and other YSRCP leaders in the Narasapuram region. The MP then went on to oppose the Jagan-led governmentâ€™s plans to introduce English medium education in all the government schools. This statement invited the ire of Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy who had then warned the MP.
Following the incident, the rebel MP has been making several accusations against the YSRCP government. He has spoken about an alleged scam in the Jagan governmentâ€™s housing projects for low-income families, has raised issues on the auction of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanamâ€™s properties, and alleged diversion of sand for sale in the black market, among other issues. The MP has claimed that he was never given an audience by Chief Minister YS Jagan to discuss these issues.
In one interview, Raju said that the YSRCP follows a strategy of pitting leaders from the same caste against each other. Following these allegations, YSRCP leaders filed several complaints against him in various police stations.
In his latest verbal attack against the Jagan government, the rebel MP, while speaking in the Parliament, had joined the chorus of the BJP and TDP, which have been alleging that there has been an increase in attacks against temples under Jaganâ€™s regime. "In Andhra Pradesh, constructive destruction of the Hindu temples is happening. There should be a Dharmik or Hindu commission, in line with Christian minorities or Muslim minorities to address the issues. Though we are the majority, we are being treated like a minority," Krishnam Raju had said.
Incidentally, Thursday's CBI searches happened days after YSRCP chief Jagan met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi, on Tuesday.
With PTI inputs