Amaravati, Sep 22 (IANS) Kanumuru Raghu Ramakrishna Raju, YSRCP MP from Narasapuram, has emerged as a thorn in the flesh of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy of late.
It has been close to a year now that Raju (58) has been attacking his own party from within, sometimes with sharper attacks than the entire opposition put together.
The Narasapuram MP has opposed some of the government schemes close to the heart of Reddy, such as introducing English medium education to all students in government schools and the trifurcation of the state capital.
Championing the one capital cause for Amaravati, against the ruling party’s position, Raju recently met Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla.
“I met Bhalla over the Amaravati issue. Though the court and the Assembly are in different cities, they cannot be termed as capitals. These are all cock and bull stories,” Raju said, taking a dig at Reddy’s plans of trifurcating the state capital.
The Chief Minister wants to create a judicial capital at Kurnool, legislative capital in Amaravati and executive capital in Visakhapatnam.
Thousands of villagers who gave lands for one capital in Amaravati during the erstwhile Telugu Desam Party (TDP) regime have been protesting incessantly against the proposed move.
The state government alleges that a massive real estate scam of more than 4,000 acres occurred in Amaravati where influential people amassed land.
After the Antarvedi Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple chariot blaze on September 5, the YSRCP Parliamentarian took the matter to Delhi and staged an 8-hour protest against such incidents.
Pertaining to the temple issues, he attacked fellow party member and Endowments Minister Vellampalli Srinivas Rao, saying that the latter was talking mindlessly.
What started as a small flicker of criticism from within for the YSRCP in the shape of Raju has now transformed into a daily soap opera, intensifying into directly attacking and criticising the Chief Minister who had given Raju the ticket to contest from Narasapuram in the 2019 Parliamentary elections.
Meanwhile, the Vijayawada-born pharmacy graduate’s anti-party antics have become prized primetime programmes for the media houses.
In a recent such interview with a Telugu news channel, Raju heaped praises on Janasena Party founder Pawan Kalyan for extending his support to the people of Amaravati.
Raju praising Kalyan, who considers Reddy as his arch-rival and did everything in his capacity to trounce him in the 2019 elections but failed, did not go down well with the ruling party.
Finding himself in the eye of the storm for anti-party activities, Raju has already drawn a lot of flak from fellow party men, especially from his home district West Godavari.
MLAs Mudunuri Prasad Raju, Karumuri Venkata Nageswara Rao and others have challenged him to resign and contest again, to which Raju retaliated by belittling them and claiming that it is his face value which helped them win in the elections.
Following a recent verbal duel with YSRCP MP from Bapatla, Nandigam Suresh, the Scheduled Caste leader has complained against Raju with the SC Commission that he was talking with contempt against Dalits.
A few Dalit bodies have already called for action against Raju, a very affluent man with similar relatives from the Kshatriya community.
Amid all this cacophony, Raju continues to claim that he respects Reddy and likes him, further creating confusion in the minds of the people as to which side he really is.
Nobody clearly knows if he is with the YSRCP or TDP or BJP, as he continues to attack his own party, often uttering a few sentences in support of Reddy after mocking and challenging him.
On his part, Reddy never talks about Raju, who also claims that Reddy is not giving him an appointment.
“I think Reddy does not want to entertain Raju because nearly four more years are left for him as the CM. Any suspension order or any retaliation will make Raju go rogue, which will be an unnecessary distraction,” said local YSRCP leader Talluri Raj Kumar.
Kumar is also not impressed with Raju, complaining that he has not done anything for the people of his constituency. He highlighted that thousands of people are suffering from a lack of potable drinking water in the Godavari district which is an irony.
Kumar said that Raju is rarely seen in the Narasapuram constituency.
Raju also has his admirers who regularly support his actions.
According to information available on the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) portal, Raju was accused in a few cheating and criminal breach of trust cases registered against him in Delhi and Hyderabad.
Politics aside, Raju is quite popular in Tollywood circles. For almost every major actor’s birthday, he flaunts a picture with them on social media.
On August 29, Raju shared a photograph with leading actor Akkineni Nagarjuna. Earlier, he had shared a photo with Nandamuri Balakrishna.
(Sharon Thambala can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)