VIJAYAWADA: Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, former State Election Commissioner (SEC), landed in yet another controversy after video footage of an alleged clandestine meeting between him, and BJP leaders Kamineni Srinivas and Y Sujana Chowdary — both seen as close to TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu — at a hotel in Hyderabad went viral on Tuesday.
In the footage dated June 13, Ramesh Kumar, former minister Kamineni and BJP RS member Sujana Chowdary are seen entering the hotel one after the other between 10.45 am and 11.50 am and exiting between 1 pm and 1.30 pm.
The footage kicked up a storm with the YSRC asserting that the meeting vindicated their stand that Ramesh Kumar is in cohorts with the TDP. “The trio are hatching conspiracies against the government. TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu is the brain behind this secret meeting. Nimmagadda must be arrested and probed immediately,” demanded Ambati Rambabu, YSRC spokesperson.
He alleged Kamineni and Sujana were working for the TDP while being in the BJP. Alleging that Chandrababu Naidu and Ramesh were conspiring against the government, he said it has become a habit for the TDP chief to misuse constitutional posts by getting his men appointed. “The trio must clarify with whom they spoke at the meeting. Chandrababu must answer... they are thieves... we will go to any length to expose Nimmagadda,” he said.
YSRC senior leader and MP Vijayasai Reddy, in a cryptic mocking tweet, asked who was the big boss with whom the trio interacted at the meeting and said more details will be revealed soon. Sujana Chowdary and Kamineni Srinivas rubbished the allegations but confirmed the authenticity of the footage.
There is nothing secret in my activities: Sujana
Stating that since the onset of Covid-19, he has been carrying out his official and business duties from the hotel, Sujana said he had been meeting leaders from different parties and such meetings were not secret. “There is no secrecy in any of my activities. On June 13, Kamineni Srinivas met in my office and held discussions. We spoke about BJP activities in the State. After spending a brief while with me in the room, he left. Subsequently, Ramesh Kumar dropped by to meet me and we spent a little time over a cup of coffee,” Sujana said in a statement.
He clarified that their conversation had nothing to do with any of Ramesh Kumar’s or his official or political roles. He explained that Ramesh Kumar and his families had been friendly for more than a generation. Kamineni clarified that he had merely congratulated Ramesh Kumar when the latter arrived and that he had left soon after meeting Sujana Chowdary.
Sources close to Ramesh Kumar said the real issue was the “illegal 24/7 surveillance and tapping of telephones.” They informed that the issue had been taken to the notice of the Governor. “Violation of right for privacy - Article 21 - is a serious issue concerning every citizen! A social meet is made out as a conspiracy!” they said.
The TDP too joined the chorus with its senior leader Varla Ramaiah asking what was wrong if the trio met. “They are not anti-social elements. The meeting is not illegal. It is true that talks were held to convey to the Home Minister and Prime Minister through Sujana Chowdary the alleged vindictive acts of the government.”
Ramesh Kumar had ceased to be the SEC after the State government brought in an ordinance changing the eligibility and tenure of the constitutional post as part of electoral reforms. It was preceded by a spat between Ramesh Kumar and the government over the former’s decision to defer local elections without consulting the latter.
The ruling YSRC has, ever since, been alleging Ramesh is hand in glove with the opposition TDP.
Subsequently, Ramesh Kumar approached the high court which struck down the ordinance prompting the government to move the Supreme Court which refused to stay the high court verdict. Kamineni was one among the petitioners supporting Ramesh Kumar’s cause.
The High Court ruled that the government should have no say in the appointment of the SEC and that it would be the prerogative of the Governor. A petition has been filed in the high court seeking to declare the reinstatement of Ramesh Kumar as illegal.