The recent arrest of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu in connection with a corruption case worth ₹371 crore has significant implications for the state’s political landscape, particularly as it occurs just months before the upcoming state elections. Notably, other prominent leaders from Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) are also implicated in the alleged scam related to the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation, which was established during Naidu’s tenure as Chief Minister.
The investigation by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) into the corruption case has hinted at the possible involvement of Naidu’s son, Nara Lokesh, who serves as the TDP’s general secretary. The case revolves around funds intended for the skill development of unemployed youth in Andhra Pradesh, which were allegedly misappropriated.
Interestingly, the ruling YSR Congress Party, led by Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, has refrained from celebrating Naidu’s arrest, despite the potential political advantage it presents. Reddy’s party is striving to return to power in the state, and Naidu’s arrest could bolster their electoral prospects.
Notably, Chief Minister Reddy was in London when Naidu was arrested. The rivalry between the two leaders has been marked by accusations of corruption and wrongdoing. While Naidu has faced allegations in the past, this is the first time he has been taken into custody.
Pawan Kalyan, president of the Janasena party and a local ally of the BJP in Andhra Pradesh, has accused Chief Minister Reddy of using his position to target political opponents and incarcerate them. He argues that effective implementation of the law would have prevented Reddy from assuming the role of Chief Minister.
N. Chandrababu Naidu, aged 73, has been remanded to judicial custody for 14 days. Given his Z-plus category security status and purported security threats, the court has ordered that he be accommodated separately within the Rajamahendravaram Central Prison.
Naidu’s arrest followed his detention at 6 a.m. on Saturday, with court proceedings commencing at the same time the following day. It took five hours for the judge to issue orders after the completion of arguments. While the CID had sought Naidu’s custody for further questioning, the court allowed him to file a counter. Naidu’s legal team had requested house arrest as an alternative to imprisonment and a special cell with additional facilities.
Naidu intends to appeal the judicial remand in the state High Court, and prohibitory orders are in place in Andhra Pradesh due to the TDP’s call for a statewide bandh.
In response to his father’s arrest, Nara Lokesh penned an emotional note on social media, expressing his outrage over what he perceives as unjust treatment. He questioned the depths to which political vendettas can sink and called for support from the Telugu community.
Naidu’s lawyers argued that as he held the position of Chief Minister at the time of the alleged offenses, any investigation required prior approval from the Governor of Andhra Pradesh. However, the court rejected this argument.
The charges against Naidu include criminal conspiracy and breach of trust. The Andhra Pradesh Police’s Crime Investigation Department has identified him as the “prime conspirator and beneficiary” of the alleged scam.