The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday accused the ruling YSRCP government of 'misusing' the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to arrest a former state minister in the Employee State Insurance (ESI) scam.
On Tuesday, senior leaders of the TDP including Srikakulam Member of Parliament (MP) K Rammohan Naidu and ex-state minister Devineni Uma, attempted to meet ex-Labour Minister K Atchannaidu at the Guntur Government General Hospital (GGH).
However, they were not allowed to do so as they were denied permission. Following this, they spoke to the doctors treating the senior politician and enquired about his health.
Speaking to reporters, Rammohan Naidu said, "As they don't have a strong legal case to win in court, they are thinking of sending Atchannaidu to jail by hook or crook."
He also accused Jagan of mudslinging others as he himself was mired in corruption charges worth several crore rupees.
The TDP leaders accused the YSRCP of using the ACB for political gains and said that investigation officials continued to visit the hospital though they were only given custody of the accused for three days, which ended last week.
They also demanded that a COVID-19 test be conducted on Atchannaidu.
Atchhanaidu, considered close to Leader of Opposition (LoP) N Chandrababu Naidu, has been undergoing treatment at the Guntur GGH after he was arrested in June for his alleged involvement in the ESI scam.
Out of the 19 accused identified by the ACB, nine people have been arrested so far.
The ESI scheme is monitored and implemented by the Director of Insurance Medical Services (DIMS) in Andhra Pradesh. Employees earning a salary of less than Rs 21,000 per month in the industrial and service sectors contribute a share of their salary for the ESI scheme.
The ACB claimed that during the TDP's five-year tenure from 2014 to 2019, when Atchannaidu was Labour Minister, there were several irregularities in the procurement of medicines, surgical equipment and furniture for ESI hospitals, ESI diagnostic centres and ESI dispensaries spread across Andhra Pradesh.
In some cases, the ACB said that it had evidence to show that three directors of DIMS had made purchases without constituting a committee and without calling for open tenders, as per due process.
The directors have been accused of fabricating quotations for the tenders and paying excess amounts without negotiating rates, thereby grossly exceeding the total budget allocated to them.
In total, the ACB said that the scam is worth Rs 988.77 crore.
Read: Explained: The Rs 988-crore ESI scam in Andhra and why an ex-Min has been arrested