TIRUPATI: Barely a few hours before the start of polling, high drama unfolded here when police made a vain bid to search the hotel room of Praja Rajyam president K. Chiranjeevi after Congress workers staged a dharna alleging that he was distributing money to their party cadre.
Tension mounted as the slogan-shouting Congress workers’ demonstration in front of the hotel was countered by Praja Rajyam cadre. Amidst angry gesticulations, both groups indulged in heated exchanges and almost came to blows when police wielded batons to disperse them.
A visibly upset Chiranjeevi, who is contesting from Tirupati, took serious objection to the police’s “partisan attitude” and insisted that the search be done only in the presence of the media. Denying the charge that he was disbursing money to the women Congress workers, Chiranjeevi told the police party that he was only discussing poll strategy with his party functionaries and studying the voters list.
Addressing media persons, he termed the incident as a “cheap drama” enacted by the Congress leaders out of frustration over outcome of Thursday’s election. He criticised the police for trying to raid his room just because a “bunch” of Congress workers shouted slogans in front of the hotel.
Mr. Chiranjeevi urged the Election Commission and the Chief Electoral Officer to ensure a free and fair election on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Congress candidate, B. Karunakar Reddy, sought to turn the tables on Mr. Chiranjeevi. He told media persons that it was the megastar’s deliberate attempt to make a “flop” into a “hit movie”. Piqued by PR leaders’ charge, he took media persons to search his house. “I have nothing to hide, my house is open,” he said.
Hyderabad Special Correspondent adds: Taking serious note of these developments, the Election Commission decided to relieve five police officials of election duty in Tirupati and post them elsewhere.
They include Ammi Reddy, Additional SP, Nagore Reddy, DSP, Narayan Reddy, Circle Inspector and Ramachandra Reddy, Sub-Inspector. It also deputed V. Prasada Rao, APSP Commandant, to supervise law and order in Tirupati constituency and despatched two additional police platoons to the town. The Praja Rajyam, however, demanded transfer of Chittoor SP, K. Lakshmi Reddy.
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