Hyderabad: His proximity with the once-powerful leaders in the Telugu Desam is well known. But what is not is that both YSR Congress and the TD were engaged in a prolonged all-out fight over Bollineni Srinivasa Gandhi, the former assistant director in the Enforcement Directorate — the YSRC to have him removed and the TD using all its might to continue him in the post.
Interestingly, the tug of war between the two rival parties over Gandhi was going on in the Union finance ministry when the TD was an NDA ally.
As the Central Bureau of Investigation digs into the shady deals of Gandhi, the multiple inputs before the agency as to how the former ED official survived for so long in the ED despite indulging in alleged corrupt practices has come as a surprise. Not only was he probing the alleged quid pro quo cases involving YSRC president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, he was also the key official investigating the Rs 300-crore tax evasion case of the Sujana group. He joined the ED in 2004.
Sources associated with the investigation told Deccan Chronicle that it was some time in 2015 when the YSR Congress felt that Gandhi was acting at the behest of the TD and harassing Mr Reddy.
The party then began its efforts to have him transferred out and was scouting for different “channels” through which their plea could be heard and considered.
They took up the matter with the senior officials in the revenue department, which functions under the Union finance ministry. Besides, the top brass of ED was being sounded, but to no avail. The ED had attached Jagan’s properties to the tune of Rs 750 crore.
Despite repeatedly taking up the matter with top bureaucrats in the government throughout 2015 and 2016, nothing moved. “Each time YSR Congress approached top officials in New Delhi, the TD was quick to send its top leaders to the same officials before whom they explained that Gandhi was an efficient officer, who was doing his job professionally and therefore needed to be continued in the agency. Since the TD was then an ally in the NDA, obviously there word carried more weight,” sources said.
With no respite in sight, Mr Reddy wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017 in the hope that some action would be taken. ‘’From the Prime Minister’s Office, the letter was sent to the Union finance ministry. No sooner had this development taken place, two senior leaders in the TD, who are no more with the party now, approached a Union minister and persuaded him against taking any action against Gandhi, saying the official was doing his job well and that the YSR Congress was unnecessarily targeting him. Gandhi continued in the post,” they said.
The matter did not end there. While the YSR Congress kept following up with various officials about Mr Reddy’s letter to the Prime Minister and whether any move to shift him was on the cards, the TD was making sure they scuttled every move or a follow-up by YSRC leaders repeatedly by approaching the powerful bureaucrats and even ministers to save Gandhi.
“For an assistant director rank official, both parties did everything possible — one to have him removed and the other to continue him,” said one official.