Making last-minute calls before his interview, Botsa Satyanarayana flips through some documents on the table before we begin. The last All India Congress Committee President for Undivided Andhra Pradesh, Satyanarayana, presently a member of the Yuvajana, Shramika, Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP), has expressed concerns over the building of Amaravati, the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh.
He alleges that the development of Amaravati has drastically slowed, and blames Chandrababu Naidu for it, accusing the Chief Minister of being party to corruption in the mega project. “A CBI enquiry on the foreign investments will bring out the facts on why investments are coming only from Singapore companies,” he says, referring to the involvement of a Singapore-based consortium, comprising the companies Singbridge-Ascendas and Sembcorp, in the project.
Since the day the proposal to invite investments from infrastructure companies based in Singapore was put forward, the opposition has expressed doubts on their involvement. The opposition YSRCP has persistently alleged that benami companies owned by the CM are involved in the consortium.
58-year-old Satyanarayana points out that during his own tenure as minister, he had willingly cooperated with CBI probes in order to clear his name. “If I was the minister and the opposition asked for an enquiry, I would readily accept it. Why should I fear when I am clean? When the 2-million-Euro Volkswagen scandal came up in 2005, I was the industrial minister in the YS Rajashekar Reddy Government. I requested Rajshekar Reddy to initiate not only an inquiry but a CBI probe. After the inquiry, the CBI gave me a clean chit and removed my name from the charge sheet,” he explains.
“I knew I didn’t indulge in any corrupt activities and I could face an inquiry. Will Naidu ever be ready for a CBI probe?” he asks.
As for evidence to support his allegations, Satyanarayana says, “I have proofs. Let Chandrababu initiate a CBI enquiry, I will prove it.”
The development of Amaravathi has been affected by a lack of transparency from the start, he says. “The Supreme Court and the Government of India suggested the AP government not follow the Swiss Challenge model in developing Amaravati. But no suggestions were taken into consideration. Transparency is needed in why he chose only the Singaporean companies and not any other company.”
He also finds much to criticise in the Chief Minister’s foreign trips to China, Japan and Russia to woo investors to the state. “He invites franchises and dealers, asking them to make investments and not the main company. Being a CM he holds meetings with CEOs and Vice Presidents of a particular sector. Will Vice Presidents take a call on investments in Andhra Pradesh?” he asks.
He continues, “He is the Chief Minister to a state and in reality he is unable to meet the heads of the company. He is bluffing people and nothing else. What investments have come to the state after his Russia and China tour? Not even a penny came as an investment. But he spent Rs 200 crore on foreign trips since he came to office.”
But what would be the right way to attract foreign investments for development of Amaravati? “Any sensible leader who wants foreign investments would call out for a global tender. And here, Singaporean companies are all we have. His government allotted 2000 acres of land to Singaporean companies, gave free power, sand and water. And in return the profit share they get is 52%. What kind of a deal is this?”
For foreign investments to come in, he says, confidence and trust should be created globally and companies will get attracted automatically. “Seeing the development of the state, companies will come forward to make investments.”