Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader from Andhra Pradesh YS Chowdary on Wednesday said that there was nothing 'secret' about his meeting with former State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar.
The ex-union minister, who is presently a Rajya Sabha member, was responding after the YSRCP released CCTV footage alleging a 'secret meeting' between Ramesh and two leaders of the BJP at a posh hotel in Hyderabad.
The CCTV footage of June 13 showing Kumar, Kamineni Srinivas and YS Chowdary entering a hotel room surfaced on Tuesday. As the state government's plea challenging the reinstatement of Kumar as the SEC is pending in the Supreme Court, the visuals of the meeting triggered a political storm.
Chowdary, in his statement, said that he met Kamineni and Ramesh separately on June 13 and dubbed them 'routine' meetings. Chowdary said that he discussed the activities of the BJP in Andhra Pradesh with Kamineni, following which the latter left the room.
Stating that Ramesh Kumar subsequently dropped by to meet him, Chowdary said in his statement, "Our conversation had nothing to do with any of his or my official or political roles. Our families have known each other for more than one generation."
Last month, the Andhra Pradesh High Court had reinstated Kumar as SEC, a month after he was sacked by the YSRCP government for postponing the local body elections allegedly at the instance of opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
The ruling party leaders said since both Kamineni Srinivas and Chowdary are close to TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, the meeting proved their allegation that Ramesh Kumar is in collusion with the main opposition party.
YSRCP MP Vijayasai Reddy tweeted that there was a fourth man too at the hotel and said he would soon reveal the details.
YSRCP leader Ambati Rambabu alleged that the secret meeting was held to hatch a conspiracy against the government and claimed that Chandrababu Naidu is the 'mastermind' of this meeting. He also said that Kamineni and Chowdary were working for TDP while being in BJP.
TDP politburo member Varla Ramaiah, however, said there was nothing wrong in Ramesh Kumar meeting BJP leaders.
It was on March 15 that Ramesh Kumar had postponed the urban and rural local body polls in the state, evoking strong reaction from Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy who not only rushed to Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan on the same day to complain against the SEC but addressed a press conference to slam him for acting at the instance of the TDP.
The state government brought an ordinance on April 10, reducing the tenure of SEC to five years and the same day, issued orders replacing Ramesh Kumar with retired high court judge, Justice Kanagaraju as the SEC.
Kamineni Srinivas was one of the people who challenged the ordinance. The high court on May 29 struck down the ordinance, reinstating Ramesh Kumar as SEC.
The state government challenged the high court order in the Supreme Court, which on June 10, refused to grant a stay.