Former Andhra Pradesh Speaker and six-time TDP MLA Kodela Siva Prasad Rao allegedly committed suicide at his Hyderabad residence on Monday. Former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu condoled his death. Taking to Twitter, Naidu said Kodela’s death is a “deficit for the party and the people”.
“I am unable to digest the death of Kodela Sivaprasad. Kodela joined the medical profession and emerged as the most popular leader…I extend my deepest sympathies to their family members, praying to God that He may grant them peace,” he said.
కోడెల శివప్రసాద్ గారి మరణవార్తను జీర్ణించుకోలేకపోతున్నాను. వైద్యవృత్తి నుంచి తెదేపాలో చేరి అత్యంత ప్రజాదరణ కలిగిన నాయకుడిగా ఎదిగారు. ఆయన మృతి పార్టీకి, ప్రజలకు తీరని లోటు. ఆయన ఆత్మకు శాంతి చేకూరాలని భగవంతుని ప్రార్థిస్తూ వారి కుటుంబసభ్యులకు నా ప్రగాఢ సానుభూతిని తెలియజేస్తున్నాను.
— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) September 16, 2019
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy also expressed grief. “Chief Minister Sri YS Jagan Mohan Reddy expressed grief over the death of former Andhra Pradesh Assembly Speaker Sri Kodela Siva Prasada Rao and conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family members,” the CM office said in a tweet.
His tenure as Speaker was mired in controversies, with allegations of him diverting furniture worth nearly Rs 1 crore from the AP Assembly to his personal offices and residence in Guntur while the capital was being shifted by Hyderabad to Amaravati. His son Shivaram was also accused of stealing laptops meant for skill development centres which he later returned.
A case was registered by the new YSRCP government under IPC sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by a public servant) and 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property). A case was also registered against his son Shivaram for duping sales tax department by not paying tax on sale of nearly 400 two-wheelers from his showroom in Guntur town.
Sources in the TDP said that Kodela, who was dejected by his loss in the elections, talked of being hounded by the police cases and allegations against him and his family.
“He fell ill after the police case was filed against him. Due to all kinds of allegations against him and his family members, he was alienated within the family and from TDP leadership. I am not sure why he decided to commit suicide because nothing was that serious or at least that is what we thought,’’ a TDP leader said.
Kodela had denied any wrongdoing and said that he had diverted the furniture belonging to the AP Assembly to prevent theft. He had then told The Indian Express that he moved the furniture and electronics as there was no space to keep them in the Speaker’s office and that they could have been stolen or damaged there. He also said he had kept them until the new Assembly complex was ready at Velagapudi in Amaravati.
“I had written a letter on June 7, as soon as the government changed, to the Assembly Secretary stating that I will return them or if they can quote a price I will pay but I have not received any reply yet. When the Assembly was in the process of shifting to Amaravati it was a peculiar situation–we had two Assembly buildings,” Rao had said.
“When the new Assembly became functional, APCRDA officials said there was no need for the old furniture or electrical fittings as it was all ready furnished. There was the issue of maintaining this furniture and electronics, and the possibility of damage and loss so I had shifted the furniture to my offices at Sattenpalli, Amaravati and Narasaraopet to keep them safe,” Rao further said.
A doctor by profession, Kodela joined the Telugu Desam Party when it was founded by NT Rama Rao in 1983. He did his MBBS from Guntur Medical College and got his MS (General Surgery) from Banaras Hindu University. He contested and won from Narasaraopet in Guntur five times and once from Sattenapalle in 2014.
He lost to YSR Congress Party’s Ambati Rambabu in the 2019 elections. In his 35-year political career, Kodela served as a minister in NTR’s Cabinet and N Chandrababu Naidu’s cabinet. He held important portfolios like Home, Health, Major Irrigation, Panchayati Raj, Civil Supplies, before being appointed as the first Speaker after AP was bifurcated in 2014.