Former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, N Chandrababu Naidu, has been arrested over his alleged involvement in a ₹371 crore corruption case tied to the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation (APSSDC). The APSSDC came into being during Mr Naidu’s tenure when his Telugu Desam Party was at the helm. Following a court appearance in Vijayawada earlier today, the Telugu Desam Party leader has been remanded to 14 days of judicial custody.
A seasoned politician, Mr Naidu denounced the allegations as a political conspiracy aimed at tarnishing his reputation. Standing before the anti-corruption court in Vijayawada, he insisted that he had been unjustly implicated. His legal team highlighted purported procedural errors in the investigation, emphasising that the necessary permission to investigate a sitting chief minister was not granted by the Governor of Andhra Pradesh.
Despite the defensive stance, Andhra Pradesh Police’s Crime Investigation Department reported Mr. Naidu’s reluctance to cooperate during the interrogation, noting his vague responses and failure to recollect vital facts pertaining to the case. While in transit from Nandyal, where he was arrested, to the court in Vijayawada, Mr Naidu reportedly declined a helicopter ride offered by authorities, opting instead for road transport. This decision led to notable delays, as TDP supporters created obstructions, a move perceived as an “intimidation of law officials.”
Background of the APSSDC scam
The focal point of this corruption case is the alleged misappropriation of funds earmarked for the Department of Skill Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the 2015-16 state budget. Preliminary investigations reveal that a substantial portion of the ₹371 crores sanctioned by the government was funnelled to shell companies through forged invoices, bypassing the official stipulation that mandated the verification of expenditures incurred by private firms before any financial allocation.
Furthermore, the CID pointed out that senior government functionaries, including the then-chief secretary IYR Krishna Rao, raised objections to the undue release of funds to Design Tech, allegedly directed by N Chandrababu Naidu. Notwithstanding these objections, large sums were diverted with no actual delivery or sale of goods and services as detailed in the invoices.
Despite the serious allegations and the described non-cooperative behaviour during the interrogation, authorities acknowledged that the veteran politician does not pose a flight risk.
As the legal proceedings unfold, it remains to be seen how the court will assess the validity of the procedural concerns raised by Mr. Naidu’s defence and the substantial evidence presented by the prosecution. This case throws light on a scandal that leverages governmental mechanisms for the misappropriation of funds, bringing the accountability of high-ranking officials into sharp focus. It is a developing story that warrants close monitoring to understand the depth of the alleged corruption and its implications on the political landscape in Andhra Pradesh.