VIJAYAWADA: TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu on Monday expressed shock over the sudden demise of his long-time party colleague and former speaker Kodela Siva Prasada Rao and held the YSRC government responsible for his death.
Turning emotional and breaking into tears, Naidu said the 74-year-old Kodela had suffered mental agony and died fearing when and how the government would humiliate him.
Speaking to the media at the party office in Guntur, Naidu recalled, "He never knew what was fear and lived like a tiger... such a person was harassed mercilessly. He told me that he was having sleepless nights due to the harassment by the government. I had advised him to face the government with courage and instill faith among the people and the party cadre."
Chandrababu Naidu said that Kodela had gained a reputation as a people's doctor and was instrumental in the development of the Basava Tarakam Cancer Hospital in Hyderabad. "His contribution to the hospital's development is unforgettable. It is sad that a doctor committed suicide unable to bear the insults heaped on him. There is no place for this kind of harassment in a democracy. People must think about this," Naidu observed.
Stating that he had never imaged that a day like this would come, Naidu said he was shocked when his son-in-in-law Balakrishna broke the tragic news to him.
Naidu also praised Kodela for his contribution to the development of Palnadu region, especially for ensuring water supply to farmers.
TDP lost a senior leader and he was a personal friend, Naidu said.
Earlier, Naidu had met his party leaders at the party office where it was decided to fly the party flag at half-mast at all their offices. The party is expected to hold condolence meetings across the state and up the ante on the alleged harassment of TDP leaders by the YSRC government.
Other TDP leaders, including Vijayawada MP Kesineni Srinivas and MLA K Atchannaidu, termed Rao's death a political murder by the YSRC.
Meanwhile, TDP leader Yanamala Rama Krishnudu took strong exception to the remarks of Municipal Administration Minister Botsa Satyanarayana and others who had claimed that the government did not book any cases against Kodela. "No cases were there against him... how came there are many after the government changed? Aren't political rivalries the cause for Kodela's depression? Going by the former speaker's recent remarks, it is clear that he was mentally disturbed," Krishnudu said.
The former finance minister also accused the state police of doing the bidding of the government without scruples. Police should also own up to Kodela's death, he commented and demanded that the Telangana government conduct an impartial probe to unearth the reasons for Kodela's suicide without hesitation.
Senior TDP leader Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy echoing Krishnudu rubbished reports that Kodela and his son had a quarrel. "His son Sivaram is in Kenya. He will arrive in Hyderabad Tuesday morning," he said.