A brief press note issued by the Income Tax department is creating ripples in Andhra Pradesh. The brief issued said that a key person from Andhra Pradesh has diverted funds meant for infrastructure building in the state. The funds were diverted with the help of fake bills and invoices, the press note said.
The business and political circles are hotly debating as to who that person could be? Several names are doing rounds in the media circles. The note, issued by IT commissioner (media and technical policy) Surabhi Ahluwalia, said that nation-wide raids were conducted in 42 places including Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Erode, Pune, Agra and Goa to unearth a havala and fund diverson mafia. The raids found that data entry operators, lobbyists and hawala dealers have diverted the funds meant for infrastructure development. It said the whole chain of delivery has been unearthed.
It did not give any details of the persons involved in the scam. But, it said that a person from Andhra Pradesh has got Rs 150 crore through fraudulent means. Even as the IT department is preparing for further action, there is a hot debate raging as to who the person could be. The business and political circles are hotly debating about the identity of the person involved.
Sources say that the TDP has fallen silent because the IT officials now have clear evidence of the funds given to the chief leader of the party by a company that was awarded Rs 2652 crore contract in Amaravati. It is because the threads of the scam are leading to the door step of the biggest leader. Hence the silence, those keenly following the events say.
It is also now clear that the BJP might use this issue to its political advantage. There are ample and incontrovertible evidence that the Mumbai-based company has given money to the top leader. This has been vouched for by the IT raids conducted recently and was prominently mentioned in the official press release of the Union Finance Ministry on November 11. The same was mentioned again in the official website of the IT wing. The press note has claimed that irregularities in works worth Rs 3300 crore were unearthed during the raids across South India, Delhi and Mumbai. The note also claimed that a key political leader from Andhra Pradesh has got Rs 150 crore from the contractors.
The firm, which was referred to by the IT press release is Mumbai-based and is known for its high quality standards. It is a big name in the infra sector, but is known to quote a higher price. In both AP and Telangana, the company has taken up works under Public-Private mode. The company has taken up projects awarded by the Amaravati Development Authority set up by the previous government for capital city construction. The works are in preliminary stage. The same company has also taken up the construction of the temporary buildings. The State Government had also allocated the works relating to the construction of the quarters for the officials to three companies. The aforesaid company has been given the largest works in this contract too. It is this company that has given Rs 150 crore to the top leader of the past government.
But the works relating to the construction of the temporary secretariat was of very low quality. The residential towers, where flats of 3500 sq ft, 1800 sq ft, 1200 sq ft and 900 sq ft were to be built, was also awarded to the company. The Rs 2652 crore contract envisaged quarters for Ministers, MLAs, IAS and IPS officials and gazetted officers. At least 20 per cent was reportedly agreed upon as the kickback in the contract. Thus the government had so far paid Rs 700 crore and of this, Rs 150 crore have reportedly been paid as kick-backs.
The IT officials prima facie believe that Rs 150 crore have been given to the top leader. This could be part of the BJP efforts to use these raids as a weapon to tame recalcitrant politicians. There are allegations that the IT statements too are politically loaded and that there is an unmistakeable political angle to them. Now the big question is what will the BJP government do with the politician. The temporary secretariat that this leader got construction has become utterly useless. Later, a lot of changes had to be made to make it acceptable.
It is now reliably learnt that the leader wants to save his skin and it is with this end in view, he is strongly rooting for an alliance with the BJP. He is now going to the town telling all who care that falling out with the BJP before the 2019 elections was a folly. Sources say that complete surrender is aimed at saving his and his followers’ skin. Some of his followers are already in the BJP and are said to be working overtime to implement their agenda through AP BJP. But, very importantly, there is no let up in the probe even after these leaders have joined the BJP.
It is clear that the BJP is determined to nail the ‘key leader. As part of the plan, the IT and ED raids on the companies would be further intensified. The recent raids on TDP leaders are a continuation of the raids conducted in April this year. In these raids, the irregularities of the leader with over four decades of active politics, have come to light.