Balineni Srinivasa Reddy, Andhra Pradesh’s Minister for Energy, forest & environment, science & technology denies any links with the money seized by Tamil Nadu Police, while the opposition calls him “Hawala King”and demands his resignation.
The seizure of Rs 5.5 crore unaccounted money allegedly from Minister Balineni Srinivasa Reddy’s car by the Tamil Nadu Police has sparked a row. For the uninitiated, it was in the early hours of Wednesday that the Tamil Nadu police seized cash of about Rs 5.27 crore in Rs 500 denominations and arrested three people at the Elavur check post near Gummadipoondi. The vehicle was on its way to Chennai. It has since been alleged that the people in the vehicle were YSRCP followers, and the cash was connected to Minister Balineni.
Stickers and ownerships – how the plot thickened
Meanwhile, reacting to the matter, Minister Balineni Srinivas Reddy said, “It has been brought to my notice that last night a car which had a sticker bearing my name was caught on the way to Chennai with crores of cash. Since the drivers in the car were from Ongole, they are saying that the cash in the car could belong to Ongole MLA (Balineni himself). I have nothing to do with the vehicle, the people in it for the money in the car. It has a Tamil Nadu registration. I have seen media reports which suggest that it is my car. Someone has misused a photocopy of the sticker.”
However, later during the day, it was reported that the car was found to have a sticker with another YSRCP MLA, Anna Rambabu’s name on it. Responding to the news, Anna Rambabu denied any link with the vehicle and claimed that the high security car-pass sticker was forged.
Denials in this case should have left many questioning the trustworthiness of the statements. The police were acting on a tip-off that ganja was being smuggled from Ongole (AP) to Tamil Nadu.
As Minister Balineni Srinivas Reddy claimed he had nothing to do with the money seized, an Ongole-based “gold businessman”, Nallamilli Bala Rama Girish reportedly claimed ownership of the vehicle and seized cash through a press statement. “Due to COVID-19 lockdown, our stock had cleared out. We were going to Chennai to buy jewellery (for our business) and were taking the cash along, when it was seized by Income Tax authorities.” He also described Minister Balineni Reddy as a spotless leader, raising questions about his motives behind throwing himself into the episode. After his statement was released, multiple images of Nallamilli Bala implying links to YSRCP and apparently close ties to the Minister started doing rounds on social media. One is reminded of a Mumbai incident in 2013 involving an Aston Martin.
A row erupts
The incident and ensuing allegations led to a public outcry on social media where people demanded Minister Balineni’s dismissal and an impartial inquiry into the matter.
The TDP alleged that the seized cash was connected to Balineni Srinivasa Reddy and called him a “Hawala King.” It further questioned the Jagan government over its inaction.
TDP MLC Nara Lokesh took to Twitter and wrote, “@ysjagan’s sand, land and wine has been seized in Tamil Nadu. A car with Minister’s followers and a Minister’s sticker were found to be transporting Rs 5.27 crore. One can understand the extent of YSRCP leaders’ corruption, looking at the cash being moved to other states.”
As multiple stories surrounding the ownership of the car and cash emerge, Minister Balineni, who is said to have close ties with CM Jagan Mohan Reddy has further sunk into the quicksand of allegations, and perhaps, left scope for more questions to be raised than originally anticipated.
It has been learnt that the expression “old habits die hard” can be traced back to 1450.