Impudent MLAs from Nellore district Kotamreddy, Anam given long rope, being smoked out of YSRCP
Sridhar Reddy thus joins Venkatagiri MLA Anam Ramanarayana Reddy, another adversary in YSRCP, to emerge as ‘double-trouble’ for the ruling party in Nellore
NELLORE: Kotamreddy Sridhar Reddy, the disgruntled Nellore Rural MLA of the YSRCP, finally ripped the mask to announce that he would be contesting on a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) ticket in the next elections. He declared plans for his political future while seeking refuge behind the sensational phone-tapping accusations he made against the YSRCP Government and Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy in particular.
A leaked audio clip purportedly featuring Sridhar Reddy’s conversation with one of his friends has kicked up a storm within the YSRCP in the last two days even as the opposition parties fired from the MLA’s shoulders to target the State Government. As the fire raged on, Sridhar Reddy chose the most opportune moment to come before the media on Wednesday to make more explosive claims against his own party’s government.
He claimed that he was threatened by none less than Sitharamanjaneyulu, the state intelligence chief, brandishing the audio clip in which he allegedly told his friend about his plans to join the TDP. Unruffled, the Nellore Rural MLA decided to use the same audio clip to turn the heat on YS Jagan and his government with his phone-tapping allegations. He claimed that several other legislators and ministers were also being spied on through phone-tapping. In the same breath, he alleged that he was warned by a senior IPS officer, whose name he vowed not to reveal, about the snooping escapade allegedly happening at the behest of YS Jagan and party’s key functionary Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy.
Sridhar Reddy thus joins Venkatagiri MLA Anam Ramanarayana Reddy, another adversary in the clothes of YSRCP, to emerge as ‘ double-trouble’ for the ruling party in Nellore district. Interestingly, Ramanarayana Reddy too made similar phone-tapping allegations against his party’s government on Tuesday, within hours of the Sridhar Reddy episode unfolding. He sensationally claimed that two of his mobile phones were being tapped and that he was forced to rely on Whatsapp and other apps to even speak to his children.
Regardless of the truth in the phone-tapping claims, which can be unravelled only through an investigation, the accusations have certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons within the ruling YSRCP. Ironically, its leadership has long been bracing for some trouble of this nature from the two MLAs since the time they have fallen out of grace for a variety of reasons. It’s just that the involvement of the state intelligence chief, as being claimed by Sridhar Reddy, has only added more spice to the episode and made the ruling party appear to have been pushed to the wall.
Both Kotamreddy Sridhar Reddy and Anam Ramanarayana Reddy have been feeling suffocated and slighted, having been sandwiched among too many political heavyweights in Nellore YSRCP. The two have different personalities and have emerged onto the centrestage in Nellore district with contrasting styles of politicking. The leaders however share a common grouse – denial of ministerial berth, not once but twice, since 2019.
Compared to his Nellore Rural counterpart, Anam Ramanarayana Reddy was the most recent entrant into the YSRCP, with no real emotional connect with its ups and downs since its inception. Ramanarayana Reddy, who weilded considerable clout during the Congress rule in the undivided Andhra Pradesh before its bifurcation, has been more of a political nomad since 2014. After spending a lifetime in the Congress, Narayana Reddy, along with his colourful elder brother Anam Vivekananda Reddy, joined the Telugu Desam Party in December 2015 . It was a compelling exit for them from the Congress as the grand-old party was wiped out without a trace from Andhra Pradesh in the elections that followed the state’s bifurcation.
After spending over two excruciating years and almost in oblivion under the TDP rule, Ramanarayana Reddy made his next big move. He joined the YSRCP in the presence of YS Jaganmohan Reddy in September 2018, a good eight months before the 2019 elections. It is whispered in political circles that the senior politician from the Anam family was never all too welcome in the YSRCP. Besides the reservations from party leaders of Nellore, YS Jagan too was circumspect about the idea, given Ramanarayana Reddy’s history of harsh verbal onslaught against him and his mother YS Vijayamma.
But as popularly believed, his close association with late YS Rajasekhara Reddy and YS Jagan’s magnanimity turned out to be the eventual tilting factors. He was also rewarded with YSRCP’s ticket from Venkatagiri, which he eventually won, even after he failed to impress upon Chandrababu Naidu and earn an MLC nomination during the TDP regime. According to his detractors within the YSRCP, Ramanarayana Reddy did not see reason to show his gratitude to Jagan and the party even after his respectable accommodation. Instead, he nursed his ambitions on a ministerial berth despite knowing the equations in a politically-proactive district of Nellore and caught in the clutter of too many heavyweights.
In Jagan’s fine balance between loyalty and caste calculations, Ramanarayana Reddy was left far too behind. The party chief in fact had to tread on a tight-rope walk to maintain this equilibrium, so much so that he was even constrained to drop his trusted lieutenant Anil Kumar Yadav to accommodate another loyalist Kanani Govardhan Reddy in the subsequent cabinet reshuffle.
Echoing similar sentiment, Ramanarayana Reddy’s brother, Anam Vijayakumar Reddy lashed out at his sibling on Wednesday for being ungrateful to YS Jagan and the YSRCP. “I could see the TDP speak from Ramanarayana Reddy’s voice. Late YSR always liked my brother. And yet, when YS Jagan was in troubles, he played truant. Adding insult to injury, he abused YS Vijayamma and Jagan. He defected to the TDP against my advice. I haver personally seen his suffocation there. He could not even manage an MLC seat then.
“Jagan was so magnanimous that he even rewarded my brother with the MLA ticket. Instead of showing gratitude, he turned against YS Jagan and everyone in Nellore YSRCP, as he could not get a ministerial berth. With this grudge, he troubled Anil Kumar Yadav to the hilt. He should not forget the fact that his political career would have ended had Jagan not showed mercy and given the party ticket. I’m ready to campaign against my brother if the party orders. I prefer to call myself an activist of YSRCP, and not as Ramanarayana Reddy’s brother,” Vijayakumar Reddy commented.
Sridhar Reddy’s fall from grace, own doing
The case of Kotamreddy Sridhar Reddy stands apart from that of Anam Ramanarayana Reddy. Unlike the Venkatagiri MLA, the Nellore Rural legislator of the YSRCP was an ardent fan and loyalist of the YS Rajasekhara Reddy family. It was this affinity that brought him closer to YS Jagan and made him stand by the young leader when he floated the YSRCP against all odds. Sridhar Reddy used to be one of YSRCP’s most recognised voices, be it when in opposition or during the turbulent times of Jagan’s incarceration in illegal assets cases.
Of course, he was well and truly rewarded for his loyalty. For a man who had never won even a councillor’s seat, YS Jagan ensured his victory as his party’s MLA from Nellore Rural Assembly constituency twice in a row. There is this all-pervading perception that YS Jagan too always treated him fondly for being a straight-talker and for his outspokenness, often overlooking complaints against him in the process.
Sridhar Reddy, perhaps, can only blame himself for scripting his fall from grace. A case against him during the TDP rule for his alleged links to a cricket betting scandal in Nellore kept haunting him even after the regime change. The legislator’s vehement denials from time to time could not help much as his image was severely tarnished. Adding to these was his alleged brash and highhanded behaviour while dealing with the public, officlals and even media that often landed him in unwarranted controversies in Nellore district.
He was earlier accused of using paid goons to get officials and media personnel bashed up for not falling in line with him. His detractors often rake up his eccentric antics even against the people that elected him. Adding to the public reputation that has hit the rock bottom, the denial of ministership made him an eternally sulking soul. The entire state saw him weep inconsolably on the day of ministerial reshuffle by YS Jagan in April, 2022.
His rift with his own party seemingly reached a flashpoint on this day as Sridhar Reddy made no bones of his displeasure and disillusion with the leadership. A few attempts at reapproachement and reconciliation initiated by YS Jagan himself in the recent past did not yield desired results. If the grapevine has to be believed, the disgruntled legislator has already gravitated to the TDP covertly and has since been acting on the sly.
The Nellore Rural MLA, in fact, used to talk in a tongue-in-cheek manner, sometimes weirdly sounding as if he was on the TDP side before the 2014 elections. After he got the party ticket from Jagan, he began toeing his line vehemently. Expecting a ministerial berth after his reelection in 2019, he went overboard in his swearing in ceremony as legislator and took the oath by “my leader Jagan”. He had to take the oath again as the pro tem speaker objected to it.
He has turned impudent eventually and welcomed the “Amaravathi Farmers Padayatra”, angering the leadership. Soon enough, there were hints to Nellore MP Adlaa Prabhakar Reddy to nurse the Nellore Rural constituency. This irked him further. And the simmering discontent landed him in this situation.
Nellore YSRCP leader Anam Vijayakumar Reddy, during a media conference in Nellore on Wednesday, said: “Kotamreddy Sridhar Reddy has already met Nara Chandrababu Naidu and Nara Lokesh, which is an open secret locally. Despite dime a dozen complaints, the party has been patient with him for the last four years. Even after being gently warned several times, Sridhar Reddy did not mend his ways. He unleashed a reign of terror in his constituency and harassed his own electorate. He openly acknowledged that he had hired goons to assault officials and media for not being pally with him,” he alleged.
In a parting shot, Vijayakumar Reddy also claimed that traders and officials in his consitutency were rejoicing the news ever since he announced to the media that he would not be contesting on a YSRCP ticket next time. It will be a good-riddance for the party, he remarked.
All said and done, the YSRCP has been bracing for possible antics from both Kotamreddy Sridhar Reddy and Anam Ramanarayana Reddy amid speculation that they would not be re-nominated from the party. Though, the YSRCP appears mentally prepared for their exit, it remains to be seen how it deals with the phone-tapping fire, stoked by the two rebel MLAs, and threatening to become a cauldron in the days to come.