ANDHRA PRADESH

Rival TDP groups trade charges

VIJAYAWADA, FEB. 26. Group rivalries in the Krishna district unit of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) came to the fore once again with supporters of the Agriculture Minister, Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao, and his rival and former MLA, Jesta Ramesh Babu, indulging in a slanging match over the arrest of the latter's close aides on charges of committing `fraud'.

Trouble began after the arrest of Mylavarapu Venkateswara Rao and P. Ravi Babu, supporters of Mr. Ramesh Babu, on Thursday on charges of embezzlement of Rs. 4 lakhs from a Primary Agriculture Cooperative Society (PACS). Mr. Babu's wife, Rama Devi, was also listed as accused in the case.

Ravi Babu and Venkateswara Rao were also facing charges of obstructing the Minister's convoy a few days ago.

Immediately after the arrest, Mr. Babu's supporters staged a `rasta roko' in front of the office of the Mandal Revenue Officer in G. Konduru, alleging that the arrests were made at the behest of the Minister who wanted to settle scores with Mr. Babu.

Mr. Rao's supporters, however, refuted the allegation claiming that there was no connection whatsoever between the Minister and the arrests.

The duo was arrested as part of the legal proceedings being conducted into the charges of `misappropriation of public funds'.

Mr. Babu was elected on the TDP ticket from Mylavaram Assembly constituency in 1994. The party denied him a ticket in 1999 only to field Mr. Rao from the constituency. Mr. Babu had contested as an independent then.