TDP veteran, Andhra ex-Speaker dies; suicide suspected

Kodela Siva Prasada Rao was found hanging from the ceiling fan of his bedroom in Hyderabad on Monday (PTI File)

Former Andhra Pradesh Speaker and senior Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader K Siva Prasada Rao died on Monday (September 16) at his residence in Hyderabad.

While his close aides said he had administered himself some injections on Sunday night leading to a heart attack, the police are yet to confirm it as a suicide.

Rao, a six-time legislator who had served in the cabinets of NT Rama Rao (NTR) and Chandrababu Naidu in the past, passed away while undergoing treatment at the Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital.

Rao’s death came against the backdrop of a political controversy over a case filed against him for allegedly “diverting” furniture from the AP Assembly in Hyderabad to his residence in Guntur while the capital was being shifted from Hyderabad to Amaravati. A case was registered against him by the new YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government. Another case was also registered against his son Shivaram for allegedly cheating the Sales Tax Department.

According to TDP sources, the 72-year-old veteran was “extremely depressed” over the “false cases” foisted against him and his family members.

Atmosphere of vendetta

The death of Rao, a doctor-turned-politician who has been with the TDP since its inception in 1982, has set off furore in political circles, with the opposition party saying he was forced to take his own life because of harassment by the police.

The state has been in the grip of vindictive politics ever since the change of guard in May this year. The YSRCP government, headed by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, has been going after opposition leaders with vengeance and also reversing several key policy decisions of the previous TDP government.

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“We are still investigating the circumstances leading to his death,” the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Banjara Hills) K Srinivasa Rao said.

Hospital sources said the TDP leader had suffered massive heart attack and was in a critical condition when he was brought to the hospital. Rao’s close aides said that the unspecified injections that he had administered himself last night could have triggered the heart attack. However, an official confirmation on the cause of death is still awaited.

Jagan expressed grief over the death of Rao and conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family members.

Long political journey

A doctor by profession, Rao joined the TDP when it was founded by the matinee idol of Telugu cinema NT Rama Rao in 1982. He did his MBBS from Guntur Medical College and got his MS (General Surgery) from Banaras Hindu University (BHU). He represented Narasaraopet constituency in Guntur district five times and once from Sattenapalle in his 35-year-long political career.

In the recent elections, he lost to YSRCP’s Ambati Rambabu. He had served as a minister in the cabinets of NTR and Chandrababu Naidu and held key portfolios like Home, Health, Major Irrigation, Panchayati Raj and Civil Supplies, before being appointed as the first Speaker of the residual AP after bifurcation in 2014.

Also read: Jagan’s revenge? Demolition heat reaches Naidu’s doorsteps

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