Hyderabad: YSR Congress Party’s rebel MP Raghu Ramakrishna Raju and a private company he owns have been booked for allegedly cheating a Punjab National Bank (PNB)-led consortium in a loan default case of Rs 826.17 crore, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said.
In a press statement Thursday, the agency said, “It was alleged in the complaint that the accused had cheated the Punjab National Bank led consortium banks by way of diversion / siphoning off bank funds etc… searches are being conducted and investigation is continuing.”
The statement came after the CBI held searches at 11 locations in Hyderabad, Mumbai and West Godavari in Andhra Pradesh on the basis of a complaint by PNB, New Delhi.
According to the agency, a case has been registered against Ind-Barath Thermal Power Ltd, a private power company, which Raju owns and is based out of Secunderabad.
An FIR has been filed against 10 people linked to the company, including the rebel MP, his wife Kanumuru Rama Devi and their daughter Kotagiri Indira Priyadarshini — all three are directors of the firm. “Unknown public servants and private persons” have been named too.
The accused have been booked for criminal conspiracy, cheating, and criminal misconduct.
This is not the first time that the CBI has pressed charges against the MP. He was booked in 2019 for a loan default of Rs 947 crore. His properties were raided at that time too.
The case pertained to a Rs 2,655-crore loan Ind-Barath was sanctioned by three non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) — Power Finance Corporation Ltd, Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd and India Infrastructure Finance Corporation Ltd — to set up a thermal power project.
Case days after Jagan-Modi meet
The latest CBI move, incidentally, comes days after Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s visit to the national capital to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday.
Equations between the Narasapuram MP and the ruling party have not been good lately. What had started off with a public spat between Ramakrishna Raju and other YSRCP leaders in the Narasapuram region, snowballed into a major rift between Jagan’s party and the leader.
The MP then started publicly questioning the Andhra government’s policies. He opposed CM Jagan’s plans to introduce English medium education in all government schools. He also alleged that he faced opposition from his own party MLAs, and that there was “caste bias” within the party.
The YSRCP served a notice to the MP in June for allegedly violating the party’s policies.
In July, a delegation of YSRCP MPs, led by its parliamentary party leader V. Vijayasai Reddy, submitted a disqualification petition against Raju before Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
“Raju never discussed any inconvenience within the party forum, instead raised it on public platforms — which is against party guidelines. He was hobnobbing with opposition party leaders, and used unparliamentary language against party president YS Jagan Mohan Reddy,” Sai Reddy reportedly said in July.
During the Monsoon Session of Parliament, Raju stunned the Lok Sabha with his statements. He said there was “constructive destruction of Hindu temples in Andhra Pradesh”, calling his own government “anti-Hindu”.
“Let there be a commission, a dharmic commission or a Hindu commission, in lines with Christian minorities or Muslim minorities, to address the issue… Only a karmayogi, our honourable PM, shall address the issue. Otherwise atrocities are going on in our state,” Raju said in Parliament last month.
He now faces a disqualification threat from the party.
Political circles are agog with speculation that the MP could go back to the BJP as he was allegedly toeing the line of the Modi-led party. Before joining the YSRCP in 2018, Raju had been with the BJP.