Viveka murder probe sparks war of words between YSRCP, TDP


Amaravati: As the CBI investigates the murder of former Andhra Pradesh minister Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy, paternal uncle of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, appears to be reaching climax, a war of words has broken out between the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

With the CBI pointing fingers at Jagan Mohan Reddy’s cousin and Kadapa MP Y.S. Avinash Reddy and the latter’s father Y.S. Bhaskar Reddy, the TDP is looking to corner the ruling party and even blaming the chief minister himself.

That the CBI’s recent startling revelations have rattled the YSRCP was evident when its leaders alleged that the TDP president and former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu were influencing the CBI probe.

The recent developments in the four year old sensational case, which has all the trappings of a crime thriller, are likely to have an impact on the course of state politics at a time when the parties are gearing up for next year’s elections.

Claiming that lower-rung officials of the CBI are taking the investigations into a particular direction, the YSRCP leaders are pointing fingers at Chandrababu Naidu, who was the chief minister when Viveka was murdered.

Vivekananda Reddy was the younger brother of former chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, father of Jagan Mohan Reddy.

He was found murdered mysteriously at his residence at Pulivendula in Kadapa district on March 15, 2019, a month ahead of the 2019 general elections.

The 68-year-old former state minister and former MP was alone at his house when unidentified persons barged in and killed him. He was killed hours before he was to launch YSR Congress Party’s election campaign in Kadapa.

Though three Special Investigation Teams (SITs) conducted the probe they failed to solve the mystery.

The CBI took over the investigation into the case in 2020 on the direction of Andhra Pradesh High Court while hearing a petition of Vivekananda Reddy’s daughter Sunitha Reddy, who raised suspicion about some relatives.

The CBI filed a charge sheet in the murder case on October 26, 2021 and followed it up with a supplementary charge sheet on January 31, 2022

In November last year, the Supreme Court transferred to a CBI court in Hyderabad the trial and probe into the larger conspiracy behind the murder. The apex court observed that doubts raised by Sunitha Reddy about getting a fair trial and investigation in Andhra Pradesh were reasonable.

Stepping up the pace of investigation, the CBI on January 28 questioned Avinash Reddy for more than four-and-a-half hours. The Lok Sabha member from Kadapa was questioned by the agency for the second time on February 24.

Avinash Reddy made the second appearance two days after the CBI made startling revelations in the case.

While opposing the bail petition of one of the accused Sunil Yadav, the CBI stated in its counter filed in Telangana High Court on February 22 that Avinash Reddy, his father Y.S. Bhaskar Reddy and their follower D.Siva Sankar Reddy had hatched a criminal conspiracy to kill Vivekananda Reddy due to the grouse they had over conflicting political ambitions.

The CBI submitted to the court that the trio used other accused Yerra Gangi Reddy, Sunil Yadav, Dastagiri and others who worked for Vivekananda Reddy to execute the murder plot.

The investigating agency stated in its counter that Vivekananda Reddy was not happy with his brother Bhaskar Reddy and nephew Avinash Reddy as they had sabotaged his chances in the MLC election in 2017 in Kadapa. Avinash and his father wanted Siva Sankar as MLC candidate but when Jagan Mohan Reddy fielded Vivekananda, the trio ensured he was defeated.

To settle scores, Viveka opposed the proposal of fielding Avinash as the YSRCP candidate from Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency. The former minister wanted Jagan Mohan Reddy’s sister Y.S. Sharmila or mother Y.S. Vijayamma be fielded.

The CBI claimed that Rs 40 crore was offered to the other accused to carry out the murder.

On February 3, the CBI questioned Krishna Mohan Reddy, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) for the chief minister. It also quizzed Naveen, who works in the house of the chief minister.

They were reportedly questioned about the sequence of events on the day when Vivekananda Reddy was murdered. They collected information about phone calls made or received by them on the day.

This prompted TDP to step up attack on Jagan Mohan Reddy and the opposition party started pointing fingers at him.

After Avinash Reddy appeared before the CBI, YSRCP general secretary government advisor Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy alleged that the CBI probe into Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy murder case is progressing as per the TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu’s directions.

He also raised suspicion that Naidu is influencing the probe agency through his aides in the BJP. He alleged that the CBI is deliberately taking the probe into a particular direction to target a few people.

Giving a clean chit to Avinash Reddy, Sajjala said the Kadapa MP had no role behind the murder. “There is no evidence to point to Avinash Reddy’s role,” he said and added that the murder had been committed as per Chandrababu Naidu’s screenplay and direction.

Sajjala recalled that the murder took place when Naidu was the chief minister. He called it a conspiracy hatched by the TDP chief to demoralize Jagan Mohan Reddy ahead of the 2019 elections. He claimed that Viveka’s murder was a big loss for Jagan at personal level and YSRCP as a whole.

He alleged that TDP leaders Adinarayana Reddy, B Tech Ravi had close links with the criminals. He said that CBI had not interrogated B Tech Ravi, Adinarayana Reddy and brother-in-law of Vivekananda Reddy, Sivaprakash Reddy who first called Avinash to inform about the death.

Sivaprakash Reddy told Avinash that Viveka died of cardiac arrest. Sajjala dared the CBI to probe why the call records of Viveka were not retrieved to bring more facts to light. He also wanted to know as to why CBI did not seize the mobile phones of Adinrayana Reddy and Viveka’s son-in-law Rajasekhara Reddy.

The TDP is making every effort to politically capitalize on the recent developments. “The question everybody was asking in the state was who killed babai (uncle). Now they have got an answer. Abbai (nephew) killed Babai,” says Chandrababu Naidu.

He also claimed that Google Takeout helped in solving the puzzle who killed babai. Naidu claimed that the technology revealed the location of every suspect on the day of the murder.

The chronology of events and phone numbers of the people allegedly involved in the murder have been traced.

Naidu alleged that Jagan’s main aim then was to gain sympathy from the murder. He said that as then chief minister, he too was made to believe that Viveka died of a heart attack.

He was all praise for Viveka’s daughter Sunitha for her lone battle to expose the plot.

He slammed Sajjala for finding fault with the CBI’s findings even as the investigation is in progress

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( With inputs from )

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