By Sandhya Ravishankar
Former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Nara Chandrababu Naidu was arrested at 6 am on 9th September while he was on a tour of the state ahead of elections in 2024. He was arrested by the APCID over the alleged Rs 371 crore scam in the AP Skill Development Corporation. Naidu has been lodged in Rajahmundry prison as judicial custody was ordered until September 23 by a special ACB court in Vijayawada.
Following the arrest, Naidu’s son and former IT minister of Andhra, Nara Lokesh, took to X, writing an emotional message about his father.
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) called for a bandh on Monday and has accused the ruling YSR Congress party of indulging in political vendetta.
The YSRCP has stated that there is no political vendetta involved and that the law was simply taking its course.
As the party waits for Naidu to get bail, its leaders have issued a point by point clarification of the allegations made in the remand report against Naidu.
TDP senior leader and MLA Payyavula Kesav said that the project in question was originally carried out successfully in Gujarat in 2013 and that officials from Andhra had surveyed the project before recommending it to the TDP government.
“A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the Andhra Pradesh government with Siemens Industrial Software India (Siemens Software) which has its units in eight States, including Gujarat and with DesignTech with similar conditions and for the same amount in 2015. The Andhra Pradesh High Court, while sanctioning bail to the representatives of the Siemens and the DesignTech, who were taken into custody by the Enforcement Directorate, in its order remarked that there is no misuse of funds in the project and 2,13,000 students were imparted training in skill development through 42 centres,” Payyavula said.
He added that the total project cost was Rs 3281 crore of which Siemens was to extend software worth 90% of these funds. The state government was to release the remaining 10% to help organise the training programs.
“One cluster which has one centre of excellence and five training centres costs Rs 550 crore and the total cost of the six clusters is Rs 3300 crore of which the state government’s share was Rs 330 cr and if the Rs 40 crore GST is included, the total investment is Rs 370 crore,” explained Payyavula.
Payyavula also said that the then secretary of the Skill Development wing, Premachandra Reddy paid Rs 30 crore to the Central Institute of Tool Design of the Union Government as consultancy fee, finalised each cluster cost at Rs 550 crore and then released the funds. DesignTech purchased the Siemens software at Rs 330 crore with a discount of 95-97%, he explained.
He added that 42 training centres in the state had trained 2.13 lakh youth over four years.
Siemens in fact takes up such programs in different countries and provides its software at a discount of 95-97% to universities and governments, added Payyavula.
Unconfirmed reports abound that senior TDP leader and former minister Atchen Naidu as well as Ganta Srinivasa Rao are also likely to be arrested by the CID in the same case.
TDP leader Payyavula also stated that it was a “wonder of the century” that senior bureaucrat and advisor to the Chief Minister, Ajay Kallam’s name was not in the FIR when he was the official who had signed off on all the agreements during the TDP government.
All eyes are on the bail proceedings of the 73 year old leader of the TDP.