The Andhra Pradesh’s Anti-Corruption Bureau on Friday arrested Telugu Desam Party MLA and former minister K Atchannaidu and five others for their alleged involvement in the Rs 150-crore Employees’ State Insurance Corporation scam, reported PTI.

Atchannaidu was arrested from his residence in Srikakulam district, ACB Joint Director Ravi Kumar said. He will be produced in court later in the day.

The alleged scam took place at the time of the previous TDP government, when Atchannaidu was the labour minister. He was involved in obtaining medicines and medical equipment for ESI hospitals.

After Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy was elected in May 2019, he ordered an investigation into the contracts that were given by the previous government, The Indian Express reported. Unidentified ACB officials told the newspaper that Atchannaidu had allegedly asked directors of Insurance Medical Services to give contracts to a company based in Hyderabad. The directors assigned the work to the company without any tenders. The firm was paid Rs 4 crore despite violating rules of the agreement.

“The Vigilance and Enforcement Department conducted a probe into the ESI purchases between 2014 and 2019 and established large scale irregularities,” the ACB joint director told the news agency. “Our investigation also revealed a scam of Rs 150 crore in purchase of medicines, medical kits, furniture and other items. Accordingly, we made these arrests.”

The others arrested include former Employees State Insurance Corporation Directors C Ravi Kumar and G Vijay Kumar. They were held from Tirupati and Rajamahendravaram city, the ACB joint director said. The Joint Director of Employees State Insurance Janardhan, superintendent Chakravarthy and another senior assistant were arrested in Vijayawada.

Atchannaidu is said to be close to TDP President N Chandrababu Naidu. There were around 100 policemen present outside Atchannaidu’s house when ACB officials went to arrest him. Naidu alleged the MLA was “kidnapped” by over 100 police officers and they took him to an undisclosed location. He claimed that the chief minister was responsible for this and also demanded Home Minister M Sucharita’s resignation.

Naidu called the arrest an “attack on backward classes”. He said the former minister was at the forefront of “exposing the misdeeds” of the YSR Congress party.