YSR’s Man Friday, now on Interpol wanted list

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on April 24, 2014 Published on April 24, 2014

Behind-the-scenes man Rajya Sabha MP KVP Ramachandra Rao

A US jury has indicted KVP Ramachandra Rao on bribery charges

As the Andhra Pradesh bifurcation debate raged in the Rajya Sabha in February, a silent and statuesque person stood in front of the Chairman’s podium holding a placard in favour of a united AP.

This was Congress leader KVP Ramachandra Rao, an astute backroom decision-maker known to be cautious to a fault in his dealings. Yet, KVP, as he is popularly known, finds himself in the dock, facing a judicial probe in the US. His crime: alleged involvement in an international racketeering conspiracy involving bribes related to a Titanium Minerals project in coastal AP. The US Federal Jury in Chicago has charged five others also in the case. The FBI has reportedly issued a ‘Red Corner notice’ for the arrest of KVP, who was the all-powerful adviser to the YS Rajasekhara Reddy Government in 2004-09.

While claiming innocence and stating that he had no information, KVP is reportedly busy marshalling legal and political defences. Coincidentally, he was sworn in a Rajya Sabha MP for a second term on April 23.

The 65-year-old, tall, bespectacled medical doctor is known to have played a key role in every major decision taken in politics, business and administration by YSR during his five-and-a-half-year rule. The common refrain when any major project proposal, deal or appointment was brought to the CM would apparently be: “Have you spoken to KVP?”

Titanium project

The Titanium project proposal came to the YSR Government in April 2006. A memorandum of understanding was signed by Suren Gervogyan of OST-CHEM Group, Ukraine, on behalf of Bothli Trade AG of Switzerland and AP Mineral Development Corporation in the presence of YSR. Investments to the tune of ₹4,000 crore were promised and lease of mines in about 83 sq km in Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts were finalised.

During the YSR regime, several mining MoUs were inked. A good number of them turned out to be scams involving bigwigs like Gali Janardhana Reddy brothers of the BJP from Karnataka and YSR’s son-in-law. A CBI enquiry led to the jailing a couple of bureaucrats as well. Along with KVP, the five co-accused in the Titanium scam are Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, Andreas Knopp (Hungary), Suren Gevorgyan (Ukraine), Gajendra Lal ( an NRI in the US) and P Sunderlingam of Sri Lanka. India and the US have extradition treaties and the investigating agencies of both the countries are in communication, making things difficult for the Andhra MP.

The friendship between KVP, who hails from Krishna district in coastal Andhra, and YSR, from Kadapa in Rayalseema, goes back to their medical college days. It has stood through thick and thin and strengthened when the latter rode to power in 2004.

Insiders recall how KVP had greater say in matters than even Jaganmohan, YSR’s rising son. That closeness is reflected in the ‘cold relationship’ between Jagan and KVP post YSR’s death. While KVP continues to be with the Congress, Jagan floated the YSR Congress Party. In the past few years, KVP managed to keep at bay many controversies, get re-elected to the Rajya Sabha, and continue to play a significant role in AP politics. His two sons have well-established businesses.

The question is will this doctor-politico overcome the current ailment?

Published on April 24, 2014
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