A fiery political drama is unfurling in Andhra Pradesh after the opposition TDP charged Kodali Venkateswara Rao, a high profile minister in the state government. The civil supply and consumer affairs minister was accused of operating a ‘casino’ for a week during the Sankranti festival at a convention centre owned by him.
A video clip has gone viral showing a person dealing cards at a table at the centre. The convention centre is situated at Gudivada in Krishna district which incidentally is Kodali’s home turf. However, state chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has distanced his government from this controversy.
TDP accused the star minister that he is a supporter of the prohibition policy of the government and issued a statement supporting the ban and had also spoken against gambling activities. However, he himself was found embroiled in running a casino. Women card dealers were also engaged there and even there were proofs of semi-nude women dancing at the convention hall.
Minister Outrighteously Denies Accusations
Refuting the charges, Kodali said that he was prepared to quit politics if the allegations could be proved. He added that if it was proved that an alleged casino was being run at the centre owned by him, he would commit suicide by pouring petrol.
He accused TDP leaders of trying to get some cheap publicity and framing him with a case with which he had no connection at all. He stressed he did not want any certificate from TDP to prove his innocence that he was not involved in any gambling activity.
TDP Openly Challenges Kodali To Keep His Words
TDP Politburo member Umamaheswar Rao asked the minister to keep his words of setting himself on fire if the charges were proved. He said that they have the proofs and they would provide the full evidence without an iota of doubt that ‘casino’ activities actually occurred in Gudivada.
State Government’s Reaction
The accusation came as a huge embarrassment for the Jagan Mohan government. It was noticed that the worried minister was visibly shaken and nervous when he came out of the cabinet meeting on January 21. It was later learnt that he was severely chided by the CM.
The CM minced no words in saying that he was very upset with Kodali and expressed his displeasure. Though the minister was trying to garner support from his cabinet colleagues it did not work.
Meanwhile, the TDP men were attacked by the YSRCP men when they visited Gudivada for investigating the incident. If the CM is really upset with the minister, he should allow TDP to prove the charges. He should not try to cover it up. This will help him improve his image with the people. But there are enough signs that the row will turn out to be a dirty political game and will rage in the state for some time.