It all began last week, when police found themselves filing a bizarre complaint that furniture, computers and air-conditioners had gone missing from the Andhra Pradesh assembly building while they were being shifted from Hyderabad to Amaravati. Soon after, emerging reports suggested that the articles had been diverted to the Sattenapalli residence of former Speaker Kodela Sivaprasad.
Outrage followed. The assembly secretary said that a letter sent by him to the former Speaker had gone unanswered. The media carried reports accusing Mr Sivaprasad of taking advantage of the relocation process to pinch articles from a hallowed institution of democracy. Ruling YSR Congress party workers alleged that such an action amounted to thievery.
Finally, the former Assembly Speaker admitted to shifting some articles to his camp office in Sattenapalli, although for reasons different from those being cited. "The furniture and computers would have got spoilt in the temporary premises, and I only shifted them to ensure their protection. I am ready to hand over the furniture or whatever cash they require,'' Mr Sivaprasad said.
The former assembly speaker also claimed that he had asked officials to take back the items after he lost in the recent state elections, but received no response.
Meanwhile, the ruling YSR Congress and its cadre are sparing no effort to embarrass the senior politician. "If a common man does things like this, what would you call it? Would you not call it theft?" questioned state Agriculture Minister Kanna Babu.
Narsaraopet MLA Srinivas Reddy accused Mr Sivaprasad of misusing his office. "Should the furniture and items come to the assembly building here or his home?'' he asked.
There is little love lost between Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy and the former Speaker, who has often been accused of looking the other way when 23 MLAs of the YSR Congress crossed over to the Telugu Desam Party a few years ago. Ironically, the Telugu Desam Party is now left with only 23 seats in the assembly after its rout in the last state elections.
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