In a suspected case of suicide, senior Telugu Desam Party leader and former Andhra Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kodela Siva Prasada Rao, slapped with a criminal case for 'illegal' possession of legislature property, died on Monday shortly after he was allegedly found hanging, police said.
Quoting Rao's daughter, Deputy Commissioner of Police (West Zone) A R Srinivas said she found her father hanging from the ceiling fan in his bedroom and he was taken down with the help of his gunman and driver.
The 72-year old leader was rushed to a hospital where he died without responding to treatment, he said.
"As per eye-witnesses account and the information available with us as of now, it appears to be a case of suicide and we suspect it to be suicide," he told reporters, but added it can be confirmed only after post-mortem report was received.
Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar said Rao was declared dead at the cancer hospital and the body had been shifted to state-run Osmania General Hospital where post-mortem was performed on Monday night.
Rao's death triggered a political slugfest in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh with the Telugu Desam Party holding the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy government there responsible for the veteran leader's suspected suicide.
A report from Amaravati said TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu accused the state government of causing a lot of mental agony to Rao by "foisting" cases on him and his family.
Ruling YSR Congress maintained it had nothing to do with Rao's death and there was no political witch-hunt by the government as being alleged by the TDP.
A medical doctor, Rao is survived by wife, a son and a daughter.
He was rushed to the hospital, of which he was a director, in an 'unresponsive' state from his house around 11 am, but died without responding to efforts to revive him.
"The family members are telling that he was under stress for the past few days but the reasons for it are still not known," DCP Srinivas said.
The hospital in a release said Rao was brought at 11.35 am "in an unresponsive state".
As per protocol resuscitative measures were initiated immediately.
"In spite of best efforts of the medical team at Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital, he could not be revived and declared dead at 12.39 pm," its Chief Executive Officer Dr R V Prabhakara Rao said.
No suicide note had been found, the DCP said adding investigation was on under an Assistant Commissioner of Police rank officer.
Rao's death comes weeks after Andhra Pradesh police on August 25 filed the case against him under Sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by a public servant) and 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) of IPC on a complaint from an official of the assembly.
YSR Congress in AP had dubbed Kodela a 'thief' who stole the Legislature property, a charge denied by him last month.
Rao had then said as a Speaker he was the "custodian" of the assembly property and took the furniture and ACs to his premises for "safe custody" after they were retrieved from Hyderabad (old Assembly).
A six-time MLA from Guntur district, Rao was the Andhra assembly Speaker from 2014 to 2019. He lost the elections in May this year from Sattenapalli segment in Guntur district.
Rao had been a member of the TDP since its inception and had served as a minister holding key portfolios, including Home, Major Irrigation, and Health, during the rules of TDP founder late N T Rama Rao and his successor Chandrababu Naidu.
Attacking the YSRC government, Chandrababu Naidu said: "For the last three months, the Jagan Mohan Reddy government has been harassing Kodela and his family and several cases were foisted on them. He ultimately committed suicide, unable to bear the harassment and unbearable humiliation, he told TDP workers in Guntur.
Other TDP leaders, including Vijayawada MP Kesineni Srinivas and MLA K Atchannaidu, termed Rao's death a "political murder" by the YSRC.
Refuting the TDP's charges, state Municipal Minister Botsa Satyanarayana said the government did not harass Rao.
There have been conflicting versions on Kodela's death since afternoon. A thorough inquiry is needed to establish the facts, the minister told reporters at the Secretariat.
Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, his Telangana counterpart K Chandrasekhar Rao and Jana Sena Party president K Pawan Kalyan were among those who condoled the death of the former speaker.