Bengaluru: Yuvaraj Swamy, Bengaluru crime branch police officials say, had a simple modus operandi.
The seer-turned-swindler, arrested by the Bengaluru Police last December, would befriend VVIPs at events, airports and homes of BJP leaders before convincing them of his proximity to the party top brass in Delhi.
During the course of his conversation, the conman would drop the names of some important BJP leaders and then pretend to make calls to these “contacts” from his phone, a senior crime branch official, who was part of the operation that led to Yuvaraj’s arrest, told ThePrint.
“He is such a smooth talker, that one would believe him after a while,” the officer said. “He has managed to trap so many people with his sweet talk.”
So convincing was the act, that a BJP Rajya Sabha MP, seeking a term extension, fell for it.
Police say they were only led to the fraudster after the MP, who they refuse to name, was duped of Rs 20 crore that was handed to Yuvaraj in return for an extension in Parliament last year. The MP’s Parliamentary term has since ended.
And he isn’t the only high-profile victim. Yuvaraj has been accused of cheating politicians, businessmen and actors promising them coveted political posts, transfers and film contracts. In all, police have filed 14 cases of cheating against the fraudster.
Claiming to be associated with the RSS and with a working knowledge of the shakhas, Yuvaraj changed from an attire of saffron robes to a white shirt, dhoti, complete with vermillion on his forehead.
The senior police official quoted above said he would rub shoulders with top BJP leaders and make predictions they would want to hear.
“He even predicted that Yediyurappa would become CM in 2006. That struck the right chord in the political circles,” the senior police official explained.
Such was his influence over the years that he soon had politicians and senior government officials lining up outside his Nagarbhavi home in Bengaluru. He became the astrologer many would visit to chalk their destiny.
Even during important BJP events where senior leaders such as Home Minister Amit Shah and Sushma Swaraj among others were present, he would accompany them and converse with them freely. Photographs of him with Shah and party president J.P. Nadda have been doing the rounds on social media since his arrest.
Sources in the police said that during interrogation, Yuvaraj claimed he had close connections with the RSS and BJP, especially party national general secretary (organisation) B.L. Santhosh.
It is these connections that have made the opposition Congress skeptical of the police probe in the case.
“This man clearly has proximity to many BJP and RSS leaders. He has used their names to con people of crores of rupees,” Karnataka Congress spokesperson Y.B. Srivatsa said. “The BJP government in the state, however, is shielding him in the fear that he will expose their nefarious activities. Some BJP leaders are using him to settle internal scores.”
Ravikumar, general secretary, BJP Karnataka, however, said the fact that Yuvaraj was arrested under the current government, shows the party is shielding no one.
“Nobody indulging in illegal practices will be spared, even if they claim to be part of party activities,” he said.
Conned people off Rs 150 crore
The hunt for Yuvaraj began after the MP and educationist complained that he gave the fraudster Rs 20 crore for a Rajya Sabha seat extension.
According to a police source, after a few meetings, the MP realised that the promises were not materialising and sought his money back. When his team reached Yuvaraj’s home demanding the money, he allegedly verbally abused them and threatened to expose the MP’s “criminal activities”.
This forced the politician to approach the police.
The senior police officer said that when the investigations began, more skeletons tumbled out.
The seer-turned-scamster allegedly duped retired Karnataka High Court judge B.S. Indrakala of Rs 8.27 crore in 2018 after promising her a prominent post. He allegedly took Indrakala to Delhi to meet senior BJP leaders and gained her confidence before getting her to part with the money.
Yuvaraj also allegedly cheated Gururaj Ravi, a Mysuru-based businessman to the tune of Rs 97 crore, police sources say.
In his police complaint, Ravi has alleged that Yuvaraj approached him through a common friend with an offer to jointly invest in a disputed property worth Rs 150 crore near the Bengaluru International Airport but once the money was transferred, failed to deliver the deal.
The money was transferred over a period of two years from 2018 to 2020, and the accused allegedly began to avoid Ravi. This is when a police complaint was filed.
When Yuvaraj Swamy was finally arrested by the Bengaluru crime branch police on 16 December, they allegedly found cheques for Rs 91 crore at his Nagarbhavi residence in Bengaluru.
The police tracked him down in a case filed by another businessman who claimed Yuvaraj had swindled him of Rs 1.5 crore after promising to make him the chairman of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation.
ThePrint contacted Sandeep Patil, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), who was involved in the arrest of Yuvaraj, but he did not respond to texts and calls. The copy will be updated when he responds.
Yuvaraj, who belongs to the Banjara community, chose to be part of a religious order soon after his college education.
Born in Devarapurada Hatti in Chitradurga district, he joined the Muruga Mutt as one of several hundred disciples studying Basava philosophy.
He was anointed by the then Muruga Mutt chief Dr Shivamurthy Sharana Swamy and his name was changed into Sanganabasava Swamy. He was the seer of the community’s Sevalal Banjara Guru Peetha in 1997-98.
“During his younger days, he worked hard with a special focus on literacy. He built hostels, raised loans for the students of the Banjara community,” explained senior Banjara community leader Linga Naik. “He would meet chief ministers seeking grants or special allowances to help the community.”
By early 2000, the senior seer, Dr Shivamurthy Sharana, allegedly began receiving complaints of corrupt practices by Yuvaraj. He was forcibly removed from his post. There were allegations of sexual assault as well.
Police later registered eight cases against him in 2004 for cheating students after promising them seats at a dental college run by the community trust which was registered as the Sri Sevalal College of Dental Sciences and Hospital.
Unable to handle the growing debt and the impending arrest after a police case was filed alleging fraud, Yuvaraj decided to leave the mutt and his saffron robes.
He was not heard of until he resurfaced in 2006 around the time the BJP began campaigning for the state assembly elections.
Thus began the political rise of Yuvaraj as he portrayed himself as an astrologer and cashed in on the BJP’s attempt to cultivate a support base among Dalits, OBCs, and other minor communities including the Banjaras.