Even as the matter of reinstating N Ramesh -- the former Election Commissioner of Andhra Pradesh who was ousted after multiple controversies and conflicts with the YSRCP government -- is pending in the Supreme Court, yet another controversy involving the retired bureaucrat has surfaced.
CCTV footage purportedly showing Ramesh Kumar meeting with BJP leaders Sujana Chowdary and Kamineni Srinivas has surfaced in the media, based on which YSRCP leaders are questioning Ramesh Kumar.
The footage which has surfaced is allegedly from a luxury hotel in Hyderabad. Markers added to the video clips point out that BJP Rajya Sabha MP Sujana Chowdary, and BJP leader and former Andhra Pradesh Health Minister during the TDPâ€™s term Kamineni Srinivas, entering the Park Hyatt, at staggered intervals, followed by Ramesh Kumar on the morning of June 13. The clip then notes that the three men entered the same room on the eighth floor of the hotel. They are seen leaving the room after about an hour, again making staggered exits.
Based on this footage, YSRCP leaders are now alleging that Ramesh Kumar, Kamineni Srinivas, Sujana Chowdary are all involved in a conspiracy against the YSRCP government, with TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu behind the scenes. They have claimed that the footage is proof that Ramesh Kumar is picking sides with certain political parties instead of being unbiased.
YSRCP MLA Rambabu accused Ramesh Kumar of turning his constitutional post into a puppet in the TDPâ€™s hands, and demanded an inquiry into the incident. He also noted that Kamineni Srinivas has also filed a petition in the Andhra Pradesh High Court questioning Ramesh Kumarâ€™s removal from the SEC post.
On a similar note, Endowments Minister Vellampalli Srinivas also questioned Ramesh Kumarâ€™s meeting with political party leaders. While Kamineni Srinivas and Sujana Chowdary are both with the BJP, Vellampalli alleged that they were working on the TDPâ€™s behalf, and that Sujana Chaudary had only moved from the TDP to BJP to protect Naiduâ€™s and his own interests. â€śChandrababu Naidu is involved in all of this. He is used to conducting secret meetings and plotting conspiracies. At a time when the SC hearing is pending, this was a conspiracy to perform tricks and win the case.â€ť He added that the state government will initiate an inquiry into the matter, and that the footage will be used as evidence in the court.
TNM tried to reach out to Ramesh Kumar, but he was unavailable for a response.
The difference between Ramesh Kumar and the YSRCP government first became public when Ramesh Kumar, as the State Election Commissioner, announced the postponement of local body polls scheduled for the end of March (now postponed indefinitely), as a precautionary measure against the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, he alleged that the YSRCP government on multiple occasions had enabled violence against candidates from opposition parties.
The YSRCP government took objection to the decision and approached the SC. While the court did not object to the postponement of the elections, it allowed the lifting of the Model Code of Conduct.
A few days later, Ramesh Kumar wrote to the Ministry of Home Affairs seeking protection, alleging threat to his life from the YSRCP. A few weeks later, on April 10, the YSRCP government abruptly removed Ramesh Kumar from the post of SEC, by promulgating an ordinance that shortened the SECâ€™s tenure from 5 to 3 years.
The Andhra Pradesh High Court had recently set aside the ordinance, and directed the state government to reinstate Ramesh Kumar as the Election Commissioner. The state government then moved the Supreme Court. While the SC refused to stay the HC order striking down the ordinance curtailing the SECâ€™s tenure, it has sought responses from the State Election Commission as well as Ramesh Kumar.