03-08-201903-08-2019 11:36:36 IST
Updated On 03-08-2019 13:09:47 ISTUpdated On 03-08-20192019-08-03T06:06:36.236Z03-08-2019 2019-08-03T06:06:21.243Z - 2019-08-03T07:39:47.876Z - 03-08-2019
Post the poll rout, life seems to be coming a full circle for many TDP leaders in Andhra Pradesh. But the most notable is the case of former Assembly speaker and once-the-Guntur-strongman Dr Kodela Sivaprasada Rao.
He is a beleaguered man, besieged by a torrent of accusations involving financial excesses and, as a fallout, completely isolated both within the party and in the district. At least 18 cases have been registered against Kodela’s son Siva Ram and daughter Vijaya Lakshmi in Narasaraopet, Sattenapalli and elsewhere in Guntur district since the time the TDP lost power in the state.
The charges range from extortion and criminal intimidation to cheating and misappropriation of funds. The cases were registered based on complaints from individuals who gathered courage to seek justice after the change of guard in the state.
In a nutshell, the overwhelming perception is that Guntur district was in the grip of Kodela family’s feudal rule in the last five years of the TDP government. And that people were forced to cough up huge sums towards what is infamously nicknamed as ‘KST, the Kodela Service Tax’. Crores of rupees were allegedly squeezed out from many individuals either in the form of extortion or through fraudulent means.
Despite people coming out into the open and slapping his family with criminal cases, the ‘Senior Kodela’ tried to stoutly defend himself. He sought to give a political colour, calling these cases as ‘politically motivated’ and abetted by the new YSRCP dispensation. But Kodela happens to be the only TDP leader whose family is staring at such a staggering number of cases with some very serious charges at their centre.
For now, the Guntur police appear to be going through with their investigation into these cases. But there is this larger apprehension based on the enormity of the charges that the Kodela family, especially his children, might face the prospect of an arrest sooner or later. This is the most worrying sign, not just for Dr Sivaprasada Rao but even for TDP president Chandrababu Naidu.
With the entire episode involving the Kodelas turning into a quagmire, the former chief minister is unsure of where this will all lead to and what will be the final costs arising out of it to the party’s image. It’s hardly two months since the TDP received its worst electoral drubbing.
And given the number of people coming out against the Kodela family for a variety of excesses, Naidu is believed to be of the opinion that it would be too difficult to contain the damage at a later stage if things begin to turn for the worse. The district level leaders and party workers are also said to be upset with the way the ‘Kodela conundrum’ has precipitated into.
Given the mood in the party, and by his own assessment, Chandrababu Naidu is said to be of the impression that the party cannot afford any ‘collateral damage’ of this kind. Against this backdrop, he is reportedly looking to initiate action to douse the fire from the Kodela episode much before it engulfs his party in the district.
The option that Naidu is reportedly toying with is the suspension of Kodela Sivaprasada Rao from the party as part of a face-saving move. One of the main reasons for TDP losing power in 2019 was Chandrababu Naidu allegedly going soft on party leaders who brazenly ran their fiefdom in their constituencies.
Now, with his party’s image already at its lowest ebb, Naidu is compelled to act against Kodela Sivaprasada Rao for some damage-control. A suspension of sorts is believed to be on the cards but the TDP supremo is also speculated to delay the inevitable till the last minute – until the time the police decide to crack the whip.
The fall from grace -- if comes true in this fashion -- would be the most tragic irony for a strongman who wielded his clout in the party right from the NTR days and used Guntur district almost like his backyard for decades. But there seems to be very little sympathy over the way the tables are turning for the Kodela family. For all the reign of terror in the face of alleged atrocities, the common refrain that is heard on the street is: “The Doctor is finally getting the taste of own medicine..!”
-Durga Prasad Kanamaluru
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