YSR, Naidu trade charges during Satyam debate

February 10th, 2009 - 11:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Ramalinga RajuHyderabad, Feb 10 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy Tuesday hit back at Leader of Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu , saying there were striking similarities in the scams at Satyam Computer Services and Heritage Foods. He spoke during the assembly debate on the fraud at the IT major.

A day after Naidu alleged that disgraced Satyam founder B. Ramalinga Raju financed the business of the chief minister’s son, YSR, as the chief minister is known, tried to turn the tables by claiming that Heritage Foods owned by Naidu’s family had cheated the shareholders just as Ramalinga Raju had cheated the Satyam investors.

Reminding Naidu of his close association with Ramalinga Raju, YSR wanted to know why the then Telugu Desam Party government did not initiate action against Satyam for eight years despite receiving information about its income tax violations.

Stating that there was no way his government could have tracked fudging of accounts by Ramalinga Raju, the chief minister said it was taking all actions in accordance with the law to probe the Rs.70 billion (Rs.7,000 crore) fraud and bring the guilty to book.

He also told the house that the state government had already requested the centre to order a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The debate, which remained inconclusive, was marred by the bitter exchange of words between the chief minister and the Leader of Opposition as they pointed fingers at companies owned by each other’s families.

All the legislators of Naidu’s TDP, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India-marxist (CPI-M) were suspended for the day by speaker K.R. Suresh Reddy in the evening when they stalled the proceedings of the house to press the demand for continuing the debate on Satyam.

The speaker argued that the evening session was only to discuss bills and that the opposition could seek clarifications on the Satyam issue Wednesday.

Earlier, the chief minister, during his over an hour long reply to the debate, referred to the irregularities in Heritage Foods. He said there were striking similarities between the scam in Satyam and happenings in Heritage as shareholders were cheated in both cases.

“There is no difference between what happened in Satyam and what is happening in Heritage. The management of Heritage should also be at the same place where the management of Satyam has gone,” he said.

Ramalinga Raju and his brother B. Rama Raju have been in jail after the Satyam founder Jan 7 confessed to accounting irregularities.

He alleged that though the Naidu family had only 33 percent stake in Heritage, it transferred the company’s prime land worth Rs.700-800 million only for Rs.30 million to another family company, Heritage Infrastructure, and cheated the shareholders.

Naidu intervened and challenged the government to order a judicial probe into the Heritage issue as well as the allegations against 14 companies owned by the chief minister’s family.

YSR recalled it was Naidu who had made Ramalinga Raju sit next to then US president Bill Clinton when he visited Hyderabad. It evoked noisy protests from the TDP legislators who rushed to the speaker’s podium, demanding permission to Naidu to respond to it.

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