Even as the issue of reinstatement of retired IAS officer Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner (SEC) is pending before the Supreme Court, a video footage showing the former top poll official meeting two senior BJP leaders at a hotel in Hyderabad 10 days ago has kicked up a political storm in the state.
The video clip, obtained from closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras of the hotel, went viral on social and electronic media on Tuesday.
It shows the former Union minister and present BJP MP YS Chowdary entering into a room on the eighth floor of the hotel, followed by former BJP minister in Andhra cabinet Kamineni Srinivas and Ramesh Kumar one after the other within a gap of two hours.
The ruling YSR Congress Party, led by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, was quick in alleging that the meeting exposed the political and caste connections of Ramesh Kumar. YSRCP parliamentary party leader V Vijaya Sai Reddy tweeted without naming anybody, saying: “Details of the fourth person who spoke through Facetime? Details soon.”
Ambati Rambabu, YSRCP official spokesman and lawmaker, demanded that the government order a detailed inquiry into secret meeting held by Ramesh Kumar with YS Chowdary and Kamineni Srinivas. Rambabu said it reeks of a conspiracy against the Jagan government. He demanded that Ramesh Kumar be arrested immediately.
While Ramesh Kumar did not respond to the calls and messages, Chowdary said there was nothing secret about the meeting. He said Kamineni Srinivas and Ramesh Kumar had met him at different hours in the hotel room, from which he had been carrying out official and business activities since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Kamineni had come to my room first and we briefly discussed the BJP activities in the state. After he left the room, Ramesh Kumar had dropped in to meet me and we spent a little time over a cup of coffee. Our conversation had nothing to do with our official or political roles. Our families have known each other for more than one generation,” he said.
He condemned the attempts of some vested interests in the media and political circles to show – on the basis of CCTV footage acquired by questionable means – that the three had met.
It may be recalled that the Jagan government had removed Ramesh Kumar from the post of SEC on April 10 by promulgating an ordinance to amend AP Panchayat Raj Act, after the latter postponed the local body elections stating Covid-19 as the reason.
Subsequently, Ramesh Kumar challenged the ordinance in the high court, which struck it down on May 29. The Jagan government moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay on high court order, but the SC did not grant the same while posting the case to a later date for further hearing.