Last Friday, the legislative assembly session of Andhra Pradesh came to a complete halt as the opposition cornered TDP protesting against issues like the call money racket, which involved gangs giving loans to innocent women at high interest rates and forcing them into prostitution in some cases, to repay those loans.
It was during the ensuing protest that actor turned politician and YSR Congress Party MLA Roja allegedly insulted chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and TDP MLA V Anitha.
During the session on Tuesday, Anitha broke down on the floor of the House, citing the 'abusive' remarks made by Roja. The speaker suspended Roja for a year, but the TDP has demanded suspension for the rest of her tenure.
In an interview to The News Minute, Roja talks about the incident, her responses to the allegations and her take on the call money scam.
The TDP has decided to seek severe punishment for your 'harsh' remarks against TDP MLA V Anitha. What's your take on this?
Without any fault of mine, the TDP is intentionally targeting me and have suspended me. Everybody (the public) is watching this because I am always fighting for issues which concern women, like the liquor issue and the call money scam. They want to escape from these issues because I am the first to raise them after Chandrababu Naidu.
The TDP is also demanding YSRCP President Jagan Mohan Reddy to suspend you for a year. What do you plan to do about it?
I will take it to the court. I will follow all State Assembly procedures, and I will do a little research and fight the case for sure. The speaker has the right to suspend me only for two days. Only if the privilege committee and the ethics committee take this up, and have a thorough discussion, can they take a decision like this.
In this case however, state finance minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu recommended the suspension for one year and the speaker agreed. They didn't give me time to clarify the issue.
After the Assembly incident, everyone is claiming that you were really harsh with TDP MLA V Anitha?
No. That's completely wrong. I never used such harsh language and she is the one who is pretending to cry in the assembly.
If I really did scold Anitha, she would have cried on the same day. But, she waited for three or four days and cooked up some story because there was no opposition party in the assembly that day.
(RK Roja being carried away after a confrontation in the assembly)
What is your response to the 'leaked' video that surfaced, which shows you allegedly abusing in the assembly?
Nobody has a right to telecast or release the clippings from the assembly without following the assembly's procedure. Despite all these rules, some people have released all these clippings on social media without the speaker's knowledge. They have also dubbed something to make it seem like I abused Anitha.
What are your views on the â€˜call moneyâ€™ scam? Naidu says even YSRCP leaders are involved
That is completely wrong because they are doing business in the name of â€˜call moneyâ€™ in Vijaywada, and they are forcing poor women into prostitution by giving them loans at huge interest rates. After coming to power, the government could have released a Government Order (GO) that you should not charge more than a certain amount of interest.
TDP leaders, MLCs and party leaders were caught in Vijayawada, so just to save their party leaders they are blaming others. Now, they are clubbing business interests along with the sex-racket scam so that they can blame other parties like BJP, CPM and YSRCP leaders.
So when Gautam Sawal (Vijayawada police commissioner) conducted raids, he got 200 CDs of evidence that the lenders were involving the poor women in prostitution. We are trying to save them, but the TDP is diverting the issue.
Are you being a good opposition by disrupting the assembly? Isn't it more responsible to get bills passed instead of the politics in the house?
The opposition is always aggressive because it is the voice of the people. We are talking about the troubles of the people. The government should address them. Instead, they are diverting the issues, throwing accusations at us, suspending us and bringing things that are not in the schedule. This not only confuses the people, but also wastes precious assembly time, which is not correct. They don't want to discuss issues.
This is not the first time such an incident is happening either?
Sometimes, they don't even give us mikes. If we do not get the mike, the opposition will fight. We want to question the ruling government, and they have to answer. We are fighting with the speaker, not with TDP. The TDP is abusing us, but the speaker doesn't say anything. Instead, he gives them the mike and lets them abuse Jaganmohan Reddy with unparliamentary words, on record.