Former Andhra Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao on Monday committed suicide at his residence here, triggering allegations by the TDP that harassment by the YSRCP government drove him to end his life.
Preliminary autopsy report confirmed that the senior Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader and former minister hanged himself.
Rao took his life by hanging with a cloth tied to the ceiling fan at his residence in posh Banjara Hills around 11 a.m.
Rao’s daughter with the help of driver and security guard shifted him to Basvatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital, of which he was the founder chairman.
Doctors said Rao was unresponsive when brought to hospital around 11.35 a.m. They failed in their efforts to revive him and declared him dead at 12.39 p.m.
Police registered a case of death under suspicious circumstances and took up the investigations. Deputy Commissioner of Police A.R. Srinivas said the family members told the police that he was under mental stress.
Police shifted Rao’s body to government-run Osmania General Hospital, where a team of forensic experts conducted an autopsy.
The body was later shifted to NTR Trust Bhavan, the TDP headquarters here to enable the party leaders to pay their last respects.
Opposition TDP blamed the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government for Rao’s death. Its leaders termed this as a murder by the government. They said Rao was under tremendous mental pressure due to false cases booked against him.
TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu alleged that Rao took the extreme step as he was unable to bear the mental harassment. “I had never imagined that Kodela Sivaprasada Rao, who himself was a doctor, will take his own life in this manner,” Naidu told reporters in Guntur.
Naidu later rushed to Hyderabad. He along with other leaders will escort the body to Narsaraopet in Guntur district on Tuesday morning.
However, the YSRCP rubbished the allegations by TDP. The ruling party suspect that differences in the family led to Rao’s suicide.
Urban Development Minister Botsa Satyanarayana demanded that the Telangana government to conduct a thorough probe into Rao’s death. He wondered why a man, who was initially believed to have suffered cardiac arrest, was taken to a cancer hospital.
Meanwhile, police in Narsaraopet and surrounding areas imposed prohibitory orders as a precautionary measure to prevent outbreak of violence.
A physician by profession, Rao entered politics at the invitation of TDP founder N.T. Rama Rao in 1982. A senior leader from Guntur district, Rao served as a minister in the cabinets of Rama Rao and N. Chandrababu Naidu in undivided Andhra Pradesh.
He served as Assembly Speaker from 2014 to 2019. He was defeated in the recent Assembly elections.
Rao, a six time MLA, was TDP strongman from the faction-ridden Palnadu of Guntur district. His rivals used to blame him for the political violence in the region.
A bomb blast at his house in Narsaraopet during 1999 elections had killed his four supporters. He was then a minister in Chandrababu Naidu cabinet. The Congress party had accused him of storing bombs at his house but Rao had blamed Maoists for the blast.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had later given clean chit to Rao in the case.
Rao was injured in the alleged attack by YSRCP workers at a polling station during the elections in April. The YSRCP had accused him of resorting to rigging.
Rao and his son Sivarama Krishna were last month booked by Andhra Pradesh Police for allegedly diverting the Assembly furniture to unauthorized premises. Some furniture was recovered from a motorbike showroom of Sivarama Krishna in Guntur.