28-08-201928-08-2019 10:34:28 IST
2019-08-28T05:04:28.075Z28-08-2019 2019-08-28T05:04:18.752Z - - 05-04-2020
The opposition Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh is staring at yet another controversy of the ‘Chintamaneni kind’, after one of its prominent leaders in Srikakulam district was booked for threatening government staff, rampaging the MPDO office besides allegedly misbehaving with a woman employee over phone.
Kuna Ravi Kumar, a former legislator and a whip during the TDP rule in the state, is reportedly ‘untraceable’ amid extensive searches being carried out by the police in connection with a case registered in Sarubujjili police station. Ravi Kumar and 11 of his followers are charged under Sections 427, 353, 506, 143 (read with 14) and Section 3 of the Public Property Damage Act. The case was registered based on a complaint from the in-charge MPDO of Sarubujjili.
The controversy erupted on Monday when Ravi Kumar along with his followers went on a rampage in the Sarubujjili MPDO office and threatened in-charge MPDO and other employees with dire consequences. Even as he accosted the staff and ‘held them hostage’ with the help of his followers, some party workers went berserk on the premises and smashed the windowpanes besides damaging some furniture in the office.
Ravi Kumar threatening the in-charge MPDO Damodar and other staff members that ‘he would beat them black and blue’, sent shockwaves across the state.
“Nobody can stop me. I will lock you up in the room and beat you black and blue. If you insult or disrespect party workers, the action would be severe,” was how Ravi Kumar issued a warning to the in-charge MPDO.
The visual of Ravi Kumar unabashedly threatening the staff went viral on the social media with a section of the media picking it and tucking into the TDP leader’s ‘unacceptable behaviour’. In addition to this, a few Telugu news channels also aired an audio clip where Ravi Kumar was purportedly misbehaving with a woman employee of the office and bullying her to ‘fall in line’.
The issue immediately grabbed statewide attention and evoked outrage over the former legislator trying to run his fiefdom despite the fact that the TDP is no more in power in the state. It is being speculated locally that Ravi Kumar has been coercing the government employees to ‘unilaterally favour the TDP workers’ with regard to local works. The state government staff refusing to take the orders from Ravi Kumar and swearing to go by the rule book has reportedly angered the former legislator to no end.
Ravi Kumar, in a brazen display of muscle power and even threatening a woman government employee over phone, has instantly revived the horrific memories of the Vanajakshi episode during the TDP rule.
Chintamaneni Prabhakar, the TDP’s now former legislator of Denduluru Assembly constituency in West Godavari district, was accused a few years ago of slapping Vanajakshi, then an MRO, when the latter attempted to halt his illegal sand mining. Prabhakar, notorious for his intemperate behaviour, was also alleged to have dragged the woman officer by her hair in that incident.
Despite the widespread condemnation over the incident, the TDP government of Chandrababu Naidu was criticized for brushing the issue under the carpet and shielding its legislator. The YSRCP, then in opposition, turned this into a potent weapon and kept the issue alive to attack the TDP government for its alleged lawlessness. Post the 2019 elections, many would see this issue in the hindsight as one of the major contributing factors for the TDP’s rout in the state.
The latest incident in Sarubujjili unfolding almost on similar lines, it is likely going to be a tough task for the TDP to either defend its leader or to steer clear of the controversy.
-Durga Prasad Kanamaluru
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