Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu Arrested

Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu finds himself in a legal quagmire as the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has arrested him in connection with the Skill Development Corporation scam. This development has sent shockwaves through the political landscape of the state.

The Arrest Drama

The CID apprehended Naidu in Nandyal, a city in Andhra Pradesh, following a high-drama incident that unfolded in the middle of the night. CBI officials had arrived at a function hall in Nandyal late at night, armed with an arrest warrant for Naidu. However, they faced staunch resistance from supporters of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), preventing them from taking the former Chief Minister into custody.

Before his arrest, Naidu took to social media platform X (formerly Twitter) to express his resolve, saying, “For the past 45 years, I have selflessly served Telugu people. I am prepared to sacrifice my life to safeguard the interests of Telugu people. No force on earth can stop me from serving Telugu people, my #AndhraPradesh, and my motherland.”

The Charges

Several cases have been registered against him under sections 120(b), 166, 167, 418, 420, 465, 468, 201, and 109, along with 34 and 37 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 have also been invoked against him.

Furthermore, authorities are preparing to shift Naidu to Vijayawada jail under NSG security.

Commenting on Naidu’s health, his counsel stated, “CID has taken Chandrababu for a medical check-up after high blood pressure and diabetes were detected. We are approaching the High Court for bail.”

House Arrest of TDP Leaders

Following Naidu’s arrest, several TDP leaders have also been placed under house arrest by the Andhra Pradesh CID in connection with the Skill Development case.

The Skill Development Scam

The roots of this controversy can be traced back to 2014–15 when an agreement was signed with the TDP-led Andhra government to establish Centers of Excellence for Skill Development training. Two companies, Siemens India Software Ltd and Design Tech, were involved in this ambitious project, which was projected to cost approximately Rs. 3356 crores. Siemens and Design Tech were expected to sponsor 90 percent of the project’s cost, with the Government of Andhra Pradesh contributing only 10 percent, amounting to Rs. 371 crores.

Nara Chandrababu Naidu, the former Chief Minister, is at the center of this scandal and faces allegations of corruption and misleading the cabinet in a scam that has shaken the state. The accusations against Naidu and other individuals involved in the case include contract manipulation, misappropriation of public funds, and orchestrating a fraudulent scheme under the guise of the Skill Development Corporation.

Government agencies, including GST, Intelligence, IT, ED, and SEBI, have conducted extensive investigations into this scandal. These efforts have successfully repatriated funds that were stashed abroad as part of the illicit activities.

Questionable Procedures and Swift Approvals

One of the central issues in this case revolves around the manner in which a note from Skill Development, indicating the estimated cost as a Detailed Project Report (DPR), was presented to the cabinet, bypassing established government procedures. This irregularity, coupled with the rapid approval and release of funds, has raised serious concerns regarding adherence to rules, regulations, and due process.

Furthermore, there appears to be a disconnect between the contract and government orders, as funds were disbursed without a clear contractual basis. Allegations suggest that Naidu gave orders for the immediate release of funds, even in the face of objections raised by finance department officials.

Key officials within the government, including the Finance Principal Secretary and the Chief Secretary, are alleged to have played a role in facilitating the release of funds. However, the whereabouts of these funds remain undisclosed.

Shell Companies and Missing Funds

It has come to light that over 70 transactions involving this money occurred through shell companies. A whistleblower had previously reported this skill development scam to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in the state. Additionally, a government whistleblower issued a similar warning in June 2018, although initial investigations into these claims were sidelined.

In a concerning twist, notefiles related to the project were allegedly destroyed when these investigations commenced. Adding to the complexity, companies like PVSP/Skiller and DesignTech, which played significant roles in the Skill Scam, have claimed Cenvat without paying service tax. Suspicion arose when GST officials noticed irregularities in the company’s transactions, which were eventually revealed to involve money transfers through Hawala channels as early as 2017.

The arrest of N Chandrababu Naidu and the unfolding details of the Skill Development Corporation scam have thrust the state of Andhra Pradesh into a political and legal maelstrom. As investigations continue, the spotlight remains firmly fixed on those accused of perpetrating this alleged corruption.

Stay tuned for further developments in this high-profile case.

Tags: Siemens India Software Ltd, Design Tech, Skill Development Corporation

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