Kodela’s death triggers a political slugfest

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on September 17, 2019 Published on September 17, 2019

Kodela Siva Prasada Rao (72), former Speaker of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, passed away at a city hospital on Monday. One of the senior-most leaders of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Kodela is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

There are conflicting reports on the cause of death. Doctors at the Basavatarakam Indo American Cancer Hospital & Research Institute in Hyderabad, where he was rushed in by his driver and personal gunman, said that Kodela was brought in an ‘unresponsive’ state at around 11:35 am.

“With no pulse and best efforts to resuscitate from the doctors team not helping, he was declared dead at 12:40,” said a statement by the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer RV Prabhakar Rao. Meanwhile, the city police has taken up investigation after registering a case of death under suspicious circumstances amid reports of suicide. A post mortem was done by doctors of Osmania General Hospital. Interestingly, Kodela, a medical doctor, was one of the founders and former chairman of the Basavatarakam Indo American Cancer Hospital & Research Institute, set up by the NTR Trust in memory of Basava Taraka, wife of TDP founder and former Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh NT Rama Rao.

Long innings

A six-time MLA from the Narsaraopet constituency in Guntur district, Kodela joined the TDP in 1983. He emerged a strong leader in the Guntur-Prakasam districts, also known as the Palnadu region. In 2014, post-bifurcation of AP, he was made the first Speaker of the Assembly. However, in 2019, he lost from Sattenapalli to Ambati Rambabu in the wave that brought YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress to power .

Kodela has served as Minister for Home and Panchayati Raj, among others, in his long political innings.

AP Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy and his counterpart in Telangana K Chandrasekhar Rao expressed shock and offered deep condolences to the family members of Kodela. Former chief minister and TDP President N Chandrababu Naidu said it was a big loss for the party and claimed that Kodela was under tremendous pressure from the political opponents in his home district in the recent months.

Political clashes

A political controversy has erupted over the sudden death of Kodela. While TDP leaders are alleging that the YSR Congress government “hounded him to death” by filing cases against him and his family members, the ruling party leaders denied the charges.

TDP leaders also claimed that Kodela was under tremendous stress in the past few months, both on the family and party fronts. With charges and counter-charges flying thick and fast, the TDP leader was at the centre of a growing trouble between the TDP and the YSR Congress. During the elections in April, Kodela was also assaulted in a polling booth, allegedly by YSR Congress workers. Later, he faced a barrage of allegations that furniture from the Speaker’s residence was taken away by him, in addition to corruption charges involving his son. The TDP leader, known for his boldness, did admit that the furniture was with him.

A week ago, the YS Jagan government cracked down on the TDP leadership by placing Naidu, his son Nara Lokesh under house arrest, amid call of chalo Atmakuru, with both parties trading allegations of attacks and the TDP claiming their workers and sympathisers were forced to leave the village.

YSR Congress leaders like Botsa Satyanarana have countered and said Kodela’s death should not be politicised.

Published on September 17, 2019
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