How a partial CBI spared Lagadapati Rajgopal

(With inputs from S. Ramakrishna)

Why are the people in Andhra and Rayalaseema still supporting Jagan in spite of he being mired in a slew of corruption cases? The reason is simple. People in those regions feel that the corruption cases against Jagan are a result of vendetta politics by Congress party led by Sonia Gandhi.

Their reasoning is simple. If Jagan is corrupt, so are the Congress bosses and YSR’s Congress colleagues, who received their “cut” from his corruption. People are not amused when politicians like Lagadapati Rajgopal criticize YS Jaganmohan Reddy. They still remember that Lagadapati Rajgopal was a close associate of YS Rajasekhara Reddy, when all these deals were struck. In fact Rajgopal was one of the biggest beneficiaries of those shady deals.

And today, Lagadapati is talking like a saint. People are clearly understanding the selective investigation of CBI. Here is more proof about how CBI deliberately let off Lagadapati Rajgopal, even though there is a clear evidence that he too was a beneficiary of YSR’s largesse.

Read on…

When investigation authorities swooped on YS Jaganmohan Reddy, one thing that they focused on was why did a string of businessmen invest crores of rupees in Sakshi Newspaper. Newspaper business has cut throat competition and most of the newspapers in India were facing huge losses. The investigating agencies were curious as to why dozens of successful businessmen invested in YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s media firm Sakshi. Among those who invested in Jagan’s companies was Lagadapati Rajgopal through his brother Lagadapati Sridhar.

M/s Jubilee Communications belonging to Lagadapati Sridhar, younger brother of Rajagopal, invested Rs 20 crore in Carmel Asia Holdings Pvt Ltd, belonging to Jagan. Sridhar’s company did no business, excepting investing Rs 20 crore in Carmel. Sridhar also invested another Rs 30 crore in Jagathi Publications.

It is widely known fact that Lagadapati Rajagopal was allotted 108 acres of prime land worth Rs 2,000 crores, in Hyderabad’s IT hub Manikonda, by the late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. Rajgopal went on to construct a premium Real Estate venture named Lanco Hills in that land.

Rajagopal’s younger brother Lagadapati Sridhar invested Rs 52 crores in two of Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s firms. Yet the CBI, which registered cases against over scores of individuals and companies for investing in Jaganmohan Reddy’s companies in lieu of favours obtained from YSR, refuses to see the link between the two deals and has spared Rajagopal from the case.

The land given to Lagadapati Rajagopal’s Lanco Hills originally belonged to the Andhra Pradesh Wakf Board, but YSR overruled all objections to ensure that the MP could build a huge township there. Both brothers are directors in the family-owned Rs 20,000 cr Lanco Industries Group.

When asked why the CBI excluded the names of Rajagopal and Sridhar from the FIR filed by the agency on 18 August, CBI joint director V.V. Lakshminarayana told the media that, “There is no quid pro quo favour to Sridhar from YSR.” Thus he dismissed the link between the MP and his younger brother.

However, as the CBI came under intense criticism for ignoring Sridhar, the agency started searching the offices of Sridhar’s Jubilee Media Communication Private Limited in Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad. When asked about the sudden raids against Sridhar, a CBI spokesman told the media that they cannot rule out any possibilities in the case and the raids are being conducted on the basis of the emerging evidence as investigation progresses.

This has to be seen in the context of other cases like that of Nimmagadda Prasad who were not only named in the FIR, but was also arrested because their kin got benefits from the YSR regime.

The CBI went to the extent of summoning each of the 70 persons who were allotted luxury villas in the Emaar-MGF Township in Hyderabad city to know whether they received this undervalued prime property in return for any help they extended to the promoters. “Going by the same logic, why wasn’t the Congress MP questioned by the CBI?” one of the villa allottees asked.

A source in the Wakf Board said, “As soon as YSR became Chief Minister, the stage was set to occupy prime Wakf land in Manikonda. The CM was very interested in Lanco’s case.”

It was settled in 1959 that a land measuring 1,654 acres at Manikonda in Rajendranagar mandal of Ranga Reddy district, adjoining Hyderabad city, belonged to the Wakf Board. However, as the value of the land went up, several litigations started on the ownership of the land. The Wakf Board has been fighting these cases in courts and in the Wakf Tribunal.

In a drastic move, YSR, who became CM on 16 May 2004, allotted 108 acres from the AP Wakf Board land to Rajagopal’s Lanco Hills. As the Wakf Board objected to the move, he superseded them and appointed a state cadre officer, Shaik Madar, as a special officer cum CEO of the Wakf Board.

Madar, disregarding the legal opinion given by the Wakf Board’s standing counsel, sent a letter to the government to forego the land for the sake of the state’s industrial development. The Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) took possession of the land on 28 October 2004 and allotted it to Lanco Technology Park Private Limited on 17 August 2005.

For this land, which was valued at a market price of Rs 20 cr an acre, Lanco Hills paid just Rs 4.27 cr an acre. Of this, the original land value is fixed at Rs 60 lakh per acre, while the remaining Rs 3.67 cr per acre is mentioned as development charges. “Nowhere have we seen land value to be less than development charge,” a Wakf Board official said on the condition of anonymity.

“Though it is named Technology Park, Lanco Hills has built residential and commercial apartments, villas and complexes over there. This is real estate business. It is an open case of YSR handing on a platter a land worth Rs 20,000 cr to his friend,” former AP Wakf Borad chairman Mohammad Salem told the media.

The AP Wakf Board is fighting a case with Lanco Hills on this matter.

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