By filing defamation suit against Telangana State Congress chief A. Revanth Reddy for linking him to the drugs scandal, Telangana’s cabinet minister K. T. Rama Rao has sent a clear message to the opposition leaders for their continued diatribe.
Political analysts say the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) working president has tried to convey to the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) chief in clear terms that the ruling party is no longer ready to take the slander lying down.
Realising that mere war of words on Twitter and challenges and counter challenges will not be enough, Rama Rao approached the court to rein in Revanth Reddy.
KTR, as the minister is popularly known, received immediate relief as the City Civil Court passed interim orders directing Revanth Reddy not to make any statement linking him to the drugs scandal.
The court passed interim injunction restraining Revanth Reddy and his agents or any person representing him from making any further derogatory, libellous or scandalous statements either by way of print or electronic media and/ or in public or in private including social media and the Internet linking KTR with the ongoing investigation being conducted by the Enforcement Directorate in the drugs scandal.
According to the minister, the defamation suit is a result of various baseless, scurrilous, and manifestly false statements and allegations made against him by Revanth Reddy. He denied any links with those accused in the drugs scandal.
Liberty has also been reserved in the suit for instituting further criminal proceedings and for payment of compensatory damages for such serious and malicious acts of defamation.
KTR, son of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, was irked by Revanth Reddy linking him to drugs case currently being probed by the Enforcement Directorate with the questioning several Telugu film personalities this month for alleged money laundering. The Congress leaders had even branded KTR ‘brand ambassador of drugs’.
While continuing to politically counter the opposition, the TRS has made up its mind to crack the whip if opposition leaders ‘cross their limit’ by resorting to ‘baseless’ allegations against chief minister or other top leaders.
Recently, KTR also threatened that the government will not hesitate to book sedition cases against those trying to defame Telangana’s growth and belittle its achievements with false figures and allegations.
He took strong exception to some opposition leaders making statements loaded with personal abuses against the chief minister.
The state is already witnessing a sharp exchange of words, allegations and counter allegations and leaders throwing challenges at each other.
A bitter critic of the chief minister and his family, Revanth Reddy launched ‘white challenge’ apparently to put the government in a tight spot.
He challenged KTR to come forward to undergo drug tests along with him. He also threw a challenge at former MP Konda Vishweshwar Reddy, who readily accepted it and reached the venue and time announced by Revanth Reddy.
KTR, however, tried to turn tables on Revanth by stating that he is ready to give his samples for drug tests if AICC leader Rahul Gandhi also comes forward to give his samples. He also remarked that it’s below his dignity to undergo the tests with what he calls a Cherlapalli jail alumni.
He was apparently referring to Revanth Reddy’s arrest in note for vote scam of 2015.
Then a leader of Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Revanth was caught by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) while offering Rs.50 lakh cash to a nominated MLA to make him vote for TDP candidate in elections for Legislative Council from MLAs’ quota.
Revanth later joined the Congress party and was elected to Lok Sabha in 2019 elections. A couple of months later, Congress party’s central leadership sprang a surprise by picking him for the post of TPCC president, ignoring several senior leaders and strong contenders.
Known for his aggressive brand of politics, Revanth is seen by many as someone who can revive the fortunes of the grand old party in its former stronghold.
Spearheading anti-government protests, Revanth is slamming KCR and his family members and constantly hitting the deadlines by making sweeping allegations.
A few days ago, the State Congress chief submitted a letter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) demanding investigation into sale of government of lands at Kondapur in Hyderabad. He claimed that the government suffered a loss of Rs.1,000 crore as the lands were sold to those close to the chief minister.
Revanth is not the only opposition leader targeting the chief minister and his family.
Bandi Sanjay Kumar, who took over as the state BJP president last year, is also known for not mincing any word to attack TRS supremo and his family members.
Both Congress and BJP leaders often use harsh words to lampoon KCR. For instance, they often remark that KCR always ‘sleeps’ at his farm house and doesn’t even step out even when people are in distress.
Making allegations of corruption, the BJP leader said KCR will soon go to jail for looting public money, especially thousands of crores of rupees he took as bribes from contractors in irrigation project.
Currently undertaking ‘padyatra’, he is resorting to bitter attacks on KCR. TRS leaders repeatedly warned Sanjay to mind his language while criticizing the chief minister.
A couple of leaders even used abusive language to attack each other. In the run up to ensuing by-election to Huzurabad Assembly constituency and 2023 Assembly polls, the political bickering is likely to only heat up.
While TRS leaders say opposition leaders can criticise the government and question it, the kind of language used by the opposition leaders is unacceptable.
KTR stated that the government will not hesitate to even book sedition cases against those making derogatory remarks against the chief minister.
Reacting to this, Bandi Sanjay Kumar challenged him to lodge a sedition case against him and put him behind bars. He questioned the government whether they would be charged under sedition if they questioned on promises made by the CM of giving double bedrooms for the poor, three acres of land to Dalits, job for every house, financial aid for jobless youth.
While warning the opposition leaders, KTR cites the recent arrest of union minister Narayan Rane in Maharashtra for his ‘slap’ slur against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackery.
“In Maharashtra, they arrested a central minister. If you want us to do the same, we will do it,” KCR said.
KTR says derogatory words against a leader of the stature of KCR are not acceptable. “There is a limit to patience. We have told them this many times. Should we tolerate this kind of language being used against a leader who fought for and achieved Telangana state, held many positions in his long political career and who has been blessed as a two-time chief minister by the people,” Rama Rao asked.
Opposition leaders, however, argue that they have every right to criticise the chief minister and his policies.