December 10, 2019
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Paper Knives

Congress turns the I-T screws on rebel Jagan

Paper Knives
Sanjay Rawat
Paper Knives
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553

Black, White, Gray

  • Jagan’s Sakshi newspaper slapped with an I-T notice for Rs 122.78 crore
  • Andhra CM Kiran Reddy says land allotments made by YSR during 2004-09 will be reviewed
  • Government considering taking back 250 acres of land given to Indu Techzone which is
    allegedly linked to Jagan
  • One of the companies served notice is Brahmani Steels, owned by Jagan’s friend Janardhan Reddy of the Bellary brothers

***

YSR Congress Party leader Jaganmohan Reddy is finding the going a lot tougher post his split from the ruling Congress as a tax noose tightens around his business ventures. This even as his group won three seats each in the MLC (legislative council) polls in Chittoor, Kadapa and West Godavari districts. While Jagan is touring Vizianagaram as part of his odarpu yatra, demand and showcause notices were issued by the I-T department to Jagathi Publications Pvt Ltd (JPPL)—which runs his Sakshi newspaper—to cough up Rs 122.78 crore in taxes. A 60-page document prepared by I-T assistant commissioner V.M. Mahidhar says several investments in Jagathi Publications were made in return for certain “benefits”.

Following a huge furore by the Opposition TDP and within the Congress itself, CM Kiran Kumar Reddy has announced that land allotments made by YSR during 2004-09 will be scrutinised. Many see this as a move to weaken Jagan financially and politically by exposing irregularities in which YSR Jr himself is involved.

One of the companies served a notice is Brahmani Steels, owned by Jagan’s friend, mining baron and Karnataka minister Gali Janardhan Reddy of the Bellary brothers fame. As much as 10,700 acres was allotted in Kadapa district to Brahmani Steels in 2007 to develop a steel plant. But so far, only the compound walls have come up.

The government is also considering taking back 250 acres of land given to Indu Techzone, which the TDP says is again linked to Jagan. The VANPIC (Vadarevu and Nizamapatnam port and industrial corridor) project, for which 26,000 acres along the coast was allotted, has also seen no progress. One of the promoters of VANPIC, Nimmagadda Prasad, has interests in Sakshi.

The I-T report hints that it isn’t just coincidence that those who purchased stakes in Jagan’s businesses were allotted land, projects and contracts, including SEZs, by the late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s government. For instance, B. Partha Saradhi Reddy, promoter of Hetero Drugs Group which held 1,11,109 JPPL shares, was allotted two SEZs at Nakapalli and Jedcherla. Ayodhya Rami Reddy, promoter of Ramky Group, who held 55,555 shares in JPPL, was allotted land for an sez in Visakhapatnam along with irrigation projects. Similarly, Jaganmohan Reddy sold 21,42,860 shares of his Sandur power company to Nimmagadda Prasad, founder of Matrix Laboratories, at a profit of Rs 30 crore. Prasad bought 19,44,441 shares of Jagathi Publications through associated firms at Rs 350 a share.

Around the same time, VANPIC Ports Pvt Ltd, a firm in which Nimmagadda Prasad and Gulf entity Ras al-Khaimah are partners, were allotted rights to develop Chirala, Vodarevu and Nizamapatnam port projects. Apart from this, the I-T report lists names of suspicious, nil-income companies which invested in Sakshi like Artillegence Bio Innovations Ltd, Kirti Electro Systems Pvt Ltd, Stocknet International Ltd (all based in Howrah), Hingora Finvest Pvt Ltd, Moon Enterprises Pvt Ltd (in Mumbai) etc.

The TDP has filed a petition in the Hyderabad HC seeking an I-T probe into Jagan’s tainted wealth and illegal assets. Congress minister for textiles P. Shankar Rao has also filed a similar petition in the court seeking an inquiry into Jagan’s sudden wealth.

Talking about the decision on reviewing land allotments, Congress spokesperson Tulasi Reddy says this will give the Kiran government an opportunity to make better use of the lands which have been lying idle all these days.

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