Satyam fraud triggers political storm in Andhra Pradesh

January 10th, 2009 - 12:00 am ICT by IANS  

Ramalinga RajuHyderabad, Jan 9 (IANS) The massive accounting fraud in Satyam Computers kicked off a political storm in Andhra Pradesh with Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu trading charges of collusion with the company’s disgraced former chief B. Ramalinga Raju.As the opposition parties alleging underhand dealings between the chief minister and Maytas Infra, a company promoted by Ramalinga Raju’s family, Chief Minister Reddy Friday distanced himself from Raju.

Raju resigned as Satyam chairman Wednesday while admitting to over Rs.70 billion accounting fraud in the company, shocking the corporate world and investors.

The opposition parties are demanding a high-level probe against Raju as well as the chief minister, who allegedly favoured the Satyam chief by awarding several mega infrastructure projects to Maytas Infra.

YSR, as the chief minister is popularly known, denied that he had any links with Raju. He was talking to reporters on the sidelines of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Chennai.

“Why are you asking me, ask Chandrabau Naidu,” Reddy shot back when reporters asked him about the opposition allegations. He was referring to the rise of Satyam as a global IT company during the regime of his predecessor.

In Hyderabad, Naidu reacted, saying: “The present Congress government is in collusion with Satyam. There were no scams during my regime.” The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president said he promoted the IT sector and had no personal interest in promoting any company.

It was during Naidu’s regime (1995-2004) that Raju shot to fame. The duo had shared the dais with then US president Bill Clinton during his visit to Hyderabad in 2000.

Denying opposition allegations, YSR recalled that soon after Raju’s disclosures, he ordered a probe by the Crime Branch CID.

Opposition parties including Praja Rajyam Party of actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi, Bharatiya Janata Party and the two communist parties have alleged that YSR unduly favoured Maytas by awarding mega projects like Rs.122 billion Hyderabad Metro Rail Project, Machilipatnam port, several irrigation and road projects in the state.

When the management of Satyam Computers last month made a botched attempt to acquire Maytas Infra and Maytas Properties, the chief minister had given a clean chit to Satyam by stating that it was an internal matter of the company.

He had also claimed that the development would have no impact on state projects as Maytas was a separate entity. However, soon after Raju’s resignation and his confession, YSR has asked officials to find out if Maytas was in a position to mobilise required funds for the projects.

The Congress government is also under criticism for being soft towards Raju. The opposition parties have demanded immediate and tough action against him.

The Praja Rajyam Party Friday demanded a white paper on all the deals between the government and Maytas. The Communist Party of India (CPI) demanded that Raju be arrested immediately.

“Ramalinga Raju should be arrested even without a probe as he has already confessed his crime,” said CPI state secretary K. Narayana. He demanded that the government take back all the lands allotted to Maytas.

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and BJP have also demanded high-level probe by central agencies into the deals with Maytas.

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