Senior TDP leader Varla Ramaiah, who is the chairman of the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC), landed into a controversy on Thursday for making an alleged casteist remark.
The APSRTC chairman was inspecting buses at the Machilipatnam bus stand when he found a young student busy with his phone and not paying any attention to the officials.
In a video doing the rounds, Ramaiah is seen standing outside the bus and speaking to the student through the window.
"We got on to the bus and got off, but this boy is least bothered. What use will he be to his father?" Ramaiah asks.
He is then seen asking the student his caste. "SC? Mala or Madiga?" Ramaiah asks.
When the student says that he is Madiga, Ramaiah casually remarked that the people from the community do not study beyond Intermediate and the boy would also end up the same way if he didn't change his ways.
The student is seen telling the official that his father was a painter while his mother was a farmer.
Ramaiah then asked the student about his economic condition sarcastically, asking how many lakh rupees his parents had in the bank. When the student replies with a small figure, Ramaiah responds saying that this was the reason that the student must work hard.
He also advised the student not to spend his time on the phone and focus on studies, even as several others watched.
Ramaiah himself, also hails from the Madiga community.
As his remarks went viral on social media, the APSRTC chairman defended his statement.
“My intention was to correctly guide the boy, who was misusing his mobile. While his parents are working hard for him, he is wasting his time. I have instructed him to help the family and not waste time. I mentioned his caste name only for education. My wish is that all of them should study well and help their parents,” he was quoted as saying.