The death of Kodela Sivaprasada Rao, the former Speaker of Andhra Pradesh Assembly and senior Telugu Desam Party (TDP)leader, has resulted in a no-holds-barred verbal war between the ruling YSR Congress party leaders and the opposition TDP in AP.

Rao, 72, was found dead in his Hyderabad residence on Monday by his daughter and was taken to the hospital immediately. He was declared dead after an hour and by evening the post-mortem report confirmed that he had committed suicide by hanging.

The TDP demanded a probe, preferably by the CBI, into Kodela’s death. Almost immediately after the news broke out on Monday afternoon, the leaders of both the parties began the blame game. It continued throughout Tuesday, as Rao’s body was brought to Vijayawada and then Guntur, by road, from Hyderabad.

The State government announced that his last rites will be performed in his hometown of Narasaraopeta on Wednesday, with full official honours.

The AP government imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 in Narasaraopeta town and nearby places. “It is cruel and callous to prevent the followers and admirers of Kodela, and the public in Palanadu area, from paying homage to a great leader of the area. The government should not be so insensitive,” said Y Ramakrishnudu, former finance minister and Assembly Speaker. Former chief minister and TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu said, “It was nothing short of murder by the YSR Congress government. The State government systematically hounded him for the past two or three months, foisting cases against him and his family members.”

He added, “It was character assassination of the most disgusting kind, which compelled him to end his life in the tragic manner he did, and the charge against him was quite laughable. He was accused of misappropriating old furniture belonging to the AP Assembly worth hardly ₹1-2 lakh. In fact, he had written to the Assembly Secretary that he had used it only for his camp office in Narasaraopeta when he was the Speaker and he was willing to return or to pay for it.”

Rebutting the allegations, State Minister Kodali Nani lashed out at Naidu, and said: “The devil is very good at quoting the scripture. A politician, who has used every dirty trick in the book to get even with his political opponents and also rivals within his own party, is now accusing us of hounding the former Speaker.”

He said, “He insulted and ignored the former Speaker during the past two or three months, not even giving him appointment. We did not file any cases against Kodela or his family members. It was members of the public, aggrieved parties, who were filing complaints with the police and the police were only investigating.”

‘Nothing to hide’

He asserted that the ruling party in AP had nothing to hide. “If Chandrababu Naidu and the TDP leaders want a CBI probe, or if Kodela’s family members want it, we have no problem with that. The incident happened in Telangana. It is for that State government to recommend it,” he added.