Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary IYR Krishna Rao was sacked from his post as the Chairman of the Brahmin Welfare Corporation after his Facebook activity went viral on social media.
In the last week of April, Rao had shared some posts that were extremely critical of the ruling TDP government, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, and even former CM and TDP founder, NT Rama Rao.
While they were shared more than a month ago, it was only recently, that some screenshots of the posts began going viral on social media.
One post took a dig at NTR's promise to implement prohibition in the state, and shared an old critical cartoon against him.
Another post took a dig at the TDP for creating a 'ruckus' after YSRCP chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy's meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The post compared the TDP's present reaction with that of when actor-politician Pawan Kalyan had met Modi, and the ruling party had defended Kalyan's politics.
Rao had also shared a cartoon with Inturi Ravikiran, a political satirist who was arrested by the Andhra police for 'offensive' posts against the TDP government in May.
The cartoon showed Ravikiran 'threatening' Andhra IT Minister Nara Lokesh, who is also Naidu's son, that he could arrest one dissenter, but many more would arise.
Many supporters of the TDP took to Rao's Facebook profile and insulted him, and spammed his wall.
Rao hits back
Addressing the media on Tuesday afternoon, Rao began by thanking Naidu for giving him a full tenure as Chief Secretary of bifurcated Andhra Pradesh from 2014 to 2016.
"He was very generous to me, and even offered me the post of Chief Information Commission. However, I refused and asked for the Brahmin Corp, as I wanted to serve here," he said.
Rao explained that he had been receiving calls and messages from people not just from India, but also from the US, who had been demanding that he resign from his post for his Facebook posts.
He went on to add, "I saw that they (state government) removed me on TV. I also got the news in this manner. There was no need to do all this. I would have resigned if they called me."
"I have not committed a criminal act. My ego is hurt but I'm taking it in my stride," Rao said, as he choked a bit, adding, "I'm trying to do good for the Brahmins. I'm only leaving because they fired me."
Rao also offered a point-by-point rebuttal on several reports doing the rounds in the media.
He also said that he had been trying to meet Naidu for six months to discuss Brahmin welfare, but didn't get an appointment.
"Some have said that I'm upset because I didn't get an MLA seat or a Minister post. Let me make it clear that I have no interest in political power. Even if it was offered to me, I would turn it down," he said.
'See the posts in context'
"Coming to the main issue, I don't know what mistake I've done," said Rao.
Rao said that he was browsing through Facebook when the fiasco with TDP MP Diwakar Reddy took place.
Reddy had created a ruckus at the Visakhapatnam airport after he turned up late for his flight, and was denied a boarding pass.
"I saw a post on Facebook by a TDP functionary, saying that they should have given more time to Diwakar Reddy. I replied a bit strongly, and said that there was a protocol, and VIPs should not be exempted from it. I didn't say anything wrong, but it was enough to anger the functionary," Rao said.
"It was this person that pulled up the posts," he added.
Stating that he felt 'very bad' when the state police arrested Ravikiran, Rao said, "I was hurt by that move. I started thinking what kind of system we are living in. Are we fascist? I believe that it was wrong, so I just shared three or four posts in protest. Is that a criminal mistake? I shared those posts without comment, because I felt that we should not put criminal cases on satirists."
"It only happened for one week. There was nothing before and after that. if someone would have asked me, I would have told them the context. No one asked me. I comment on everything under the sun, but they only found those posts offensive," he added.
As far as the Brahmin Corporation was concerned, Rao said that he would step down as soon as he received official communication from the government.
"I tried to do a lot. I just have a request for people not to dilute my efforts. We should build institutions and not a subsidy doling process. I don't think I'm indispensable, but I have a personal sense of responsibility towards the corporation," he said.
In conclusion Rao also hit out at the media, saying, "One thing is certain. The people of Andhra are not getting the truth. There is no neutral paper in the state. There is a serious lack of credibility."
Rao, who is from the 1979 batch of IAS officers, served as the District Collector, Khammam and Nalgonda, before serving as a state Secretary for Panchayat Raj and Finance. He also served a term as the Executive Officer of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD).
He finally retired as the Chief Secretary of the state.