Home Economy Raju supported by followers despite fall from grace

Raju supported by followers despite fall from grace


Hyderabad : From his native village Garagaparru in coastal Andhra Pradesh to this IT hub, the disgraced founder and former chairman of Satyam Computer Services B. Ramalinga Raju still enjoys a soft corner in the hearts of his followers, admirers and employees.

While people in the remote village in West Godavari district are thronging local temples to pray for Raju’s well-being, some die-hard followers here are making the rounds of Chanchalguda Central Jail, where the former IT czar is lodged along with his brother B. Rama Raju and former chief financial officer of the company V. Srinivas.

Raju may have committed the biggest fraud in corporate India’s history but for his admirers, he is still the hero.

“We are with you. Please don’t loose confidence,” says a placard tied to a tree outside the prison by one of his followers. “Wish you a happy and prosperous Sankranthi,” says another.

Dozens of followers, including former employees and villagers from West Godavari district, have been making a beeline to the jail to express sympathy for Raju. Some even wanted to hand over a few books to him. However, they have been facing dissapointment.

The jail authorities are allowing only Raju’s family members and his lawyer to meet him. Raju’s friend and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) legislator from Kovvur in West Godavari district P. Venkata Krishna Rao also met him in jail.

The support of his followers is sure to lift the spirits of 54-year-old Raju, who was sent to jail on Jan 10, three days after he admitted committing over Rs.70 billion fraud in the company.

The son of a farmer, who made an humble beginning two decades ago and went on to build Satyam into India’s fourth largest IT services firm, Raju is still hailed by his followers as the “Bill Gates of Andhra Pradesh”.

“Who can forget his contribution to the growth of IT sector. Thousands of engineers from across the state got jobs because of him,” said T. Anil Kumar, a former Satyam employee.

Raju was often hailed as the “pride of Andhra Pradesh” for putting the state onto the world IT map. Raju’s followers have even condoned him for manipulating company records saying he did it for the sake of company and its 53,000 employees. They are also hailing the confession he made while resigning as chairman.

People in Raju’s ancestral village have thrown their weight behind the family. The usual festivities during three-day festival of Sankranthi, which concluded Thursday, were missing in the village.

The supporters put banners and flex boards, declaring their support to Raju brothers. One banner described Raju as ‘Raraju’ (king of kings). Another board refers to the social service taken up by Byrraju Foundation of the family.

“He is a great man who saved many lives,” says a banner hailing the 108 ambulance service launched by Emergency Medical and Research Institute (EMRI), formed by Raju. Some banners refer to the drinking water scheme taken up by the foundation in 200 villages.

Raju’s followers are trying to mobilise support for him. A silent procession will be held Monday in Bhimavaram town in West Godavari district. The Kshatriya community, to which Raju belongs, has thrown its weight behind the son of the soil. Rallies in his support are also scheduled to be held in several other towns and village on Jan 23.