Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhar Reddy on Friday asked the squabbling chairperson of the state women's commission to quit.
Reddy's diktat comes in the wake of Thursday's incident at Tirupati where Chairperson Mary Ravindranath and member N Padmaja Reddy openly quarreled in the presence of the media. They hurled allegations at each other and Mary broke into tears reacting to Padmaja's retorts.
The verbal duel was an extension of the altercation that they had on Wednesday at Sri Padmavathi Mahila Vishwa Vidyalayam. The commission chairperson, accompanied by two other members, had gone to Tirupati to inquire into a complaint lodged by professor K A Parvati against another faculty member Dr K Murugaiah and two non-teaching staff members Raja Reddy and V Subrahmanyam.
The complaint was that Dr Murugaiah and other staffers behaved rudely and used indecent words against the Vice-Chancellor Veena Noble Dass, at a meeting held on April 30. The vice-chancellor had suspended Dr Murugaiah of the Department of Social Work for a week and the case was subsequently closed.
But a complaint was lodged against him and two others with the Women's Commission on May 1.
On Wednesday, the commission abruptly ended its sitting as tense situation prevailed on the campus.
The commission was to resume its sitting on Thursday but at the appointed hour, all hell broke out when Mary and Padmaja crossed swords in the presence of media persons who were called for a briefing.
Mary alleged that the member was creating hurdles and harassing her. "She talks ill of me even during meetings. All other members are cooperating except her. She is always insulting me. She follows me around and collects money from those who come to give complaints. I have received many complaints against her and I have proof against her. I will definitely take up the issue with the chief minister and seek her suspension. The commission cannot function with this woman as member," she said.
Reacting to the chairperson's outburst, the Tirupati-based member Padmaja alleged." "The chairperson never informs us about any case and takes decisions unilaterally. As per rules, she should hold a commission meeting every three months but this has not happened even once in the last two and a half years. She is an authoritarian person. This probe is one-sided and Mary is favouring the vice-chancellor."
At this stage, Mary sobbed inconsolably and alleged that Padmaja was trying to stall the inquiry with an ulterior motive. The non-teaching employees of the university held a noisy dharna at the venue, raising slogans against Ms Mary. They also tried to block her car.
Taking a serious view of the incident which was extensively covered both by the print and electronic media, an angry chief minister on Friday asked both the chairperson and the member of the Women's Commission to quit their posts forthwith.
Incidentally, Mary Ravindranath is a former Congress legislator from Secunderabad. Padmaja Reddy, hailing from Chittoor district, is also a Mahila Congress activist.