ANDHRA PRADESH

Uproar over continuance of two Ministers

HYDERABAD Sept. 26. Continuance of the Ministers - K. Sivaprasada Rao and P. Ramasubba Reddy -- continued to raise furore in the Legislative Assembly for the fourth consecutive day with the Congress questioning the `morality and propriety' of the Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, in shielding the `persons facing criminal charges.' The Ministers strongly defended their continuation pleading that they were falsely implicated in the cases.

The issue, which figured during the debate on the criminalisation of politics and scams, disrupted the proceedings for about an hour with the Treasury and Opposition benches trading charges and counter-charges.

The trouble began when Mr. Sivaprasada Rao, referring to the Congress' criticism against his continuance, launched a tirade against the CLP leader claiming that the latter's family was terrorising people in Cuddapah district by encouraging violent activities. "Leave alone the ruling party, the then Congress Cabinet had sought the suspension of Mr. Reddy from the party for indulging in factional violence," he said.

Referring to the bomb blast in his hospital in 1999, which claimed a few lives, Mr. Rao said that the hospital building was leased out in 1997 when a few of his friends converted the hospital into a multi-speciality facility and were managing them. Moreover, the day when the blast occurred, he was more than 150 km away in Prakasam district participating in an election campaign.

Refuting the Congress allegation that the Centre was pressurised by Mr. Naidu for denying permission to CBI to prosecute him in the case, he said that the CBI sought the permission as it was not convinced that the building was leased out. However, after the Attorney General gave his comments exonerating him from the charge, the Centre did not permit the prosecution, he said. "The Congress was not satisfied and went ahead to file writ petitions in the High Court and the Supreme Court which were dismissed at the admission stage itself," he said.

Mr. Ramasubba Reddy said that he was falsely implicated in the double murder case as he belonged to the family of former TDP leader, Siva Reddy. In fact, at the time when the incident took place, he was not in active politics. "It is only after the murder of my uncle Siva Reddy that I entered politics," he said claiming that every one in the CLP leader's family was involved in some or other crime. He went ahead to challenge the CLP leader for jointly seeking a public opinion as to who was encouraging violence in Cuddapah district.

Responding to the charges, the CLP leader recalled the observation made by the AP High Court on the continuation of Mr. Ramasubba Reddy in the State Cabinet and invited the Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, too to join them for seeking public opinion on different issues.

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