Telugu Desam Party leader Chandrababu Naidu has been given regular bail by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, in connection with the alleged Rs 371 crore Skill Development Corporation scam case.
The former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister – arrested over two months ago – is already out of jail; last month he was given interim medical bail for four weeks to have cataract surgery on his right eye.
Mr Naidu will now not have to return to jail on November 28, as previously ordered.
Significantly, Mr Naidu was also given the all-clear to participate in political activities. The green light comes too late for this weekend’s election in neighbouring Telangana, which votes on November 30.
However, Mr Naidu is likely to make a statement on his arrest – which was vociferously protested by his party cadre, supporters and family – and against his rivals, the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi.
On his release on medical bail, he had said: “When I was in trouble, you took to the streets and prayed for me. I will never forget this… not only in Andhra Pradesh but also Telangana and across the world.”
Last month the TDP opted out of the Telangana election because Mr Naidu was, then, still in jail.
A senior party leader told NDTV the decision was taken after a meeting between the TDP’s state boss, Kasani Gnaneswar and Mr Naidu, who was then in the Rajahmundry Central Jail.
The TDP boss reportedly said that with him behind bars, it may not be possible for the leadership to campaign in Telangana and therefore Mr Gnaneswar must explain to the cadre these circumstances.
The TDP has some support in Telangana – because of which it won 15 seats in the 2014 Assembly election and two in the 2018. However, the elected MLAs later shifted loyalty to the ruling party.
Mr Naidu’s Telangana’s supporters are upset with the BRS because it did not condemn his arrest, and because they were not allowed to hold a protest in his support in the Hitech City area.
Mr Naidu’s arrest last month triggered political turmoil and led to violent clashes. Party leaders condemned Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy’s government for the “witch hunt”.
His son, Nara Lokesh, spoke to NDTV and declared “I should call for a civil war”, to both force the release of his father and expose Andhra Pradesh’s “corrupt” ruling YSR Congress Party.
The Telangana election result will be declared on December 3.