Call money racket rocks Andhra Pradesh assembly

Hyderabad, Dec 17 (IANS) The call money racket rocked the Andhra Pradesh assembly on Thursday, resulting in suspension of two members of the main opposition YSR Congress party from the house for two days.

On the first day of the winter session, the assembly was adjourned without any business as the YSR Congress stalled the proceedings demanding an immediate debate on the scandal, which has shocked the state.

Speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao had to adjourn the house twice and the third time for the day as the opposition party was in no mood to relent despite the Telugu Desam Party-led government’s announcement that the issue will be taken up for debate on Friday.

The members of YSR Congress rushed to the speaker’s podium and raised slogans against the government, alleging involvement of ruling TDP leaders in the scandal.

Amid the pandemonium, two legislators of the opposition blocked a television camera, disrupting the live telecast of the proceedings.

Legislative Affairs Minister Y. Ramakrishnudu moved a resolution for suspension of B. Sivaprasad Reddy and D. Ramalingeswar Rao. The speaker announced suspension of both the members for two days.

Earlier, Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said those involved in call money racket would be brought to book. “No matter how powerful they are and which party they belong to, they will not be spared,” he said.

Naidu said the behaviour of the YSR Congress in the house brought shame to the civilised society. He urged the speaker to bring the order so that the house can take up special debate on the architect of the constitution, B.R. Ambedkar.

The TDP leaders alleged that the YSR Congress insulted Ambedkar by stalling a debate on the late leader. There was uproar in the house as treasury and opposition benches traded allegations.

Leader of Opposition Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy displayed pictures of Naidu with one of the accused in the case, alleging that the scandal has full patronage of the chief minister.

Leaders of the ruling party said the government was ready to discuss all issues, including the corruption cases against Jaganmohan Reddy.

As soon as the house met for the day, the YSR Congress insisted on a debate on the call money racket. When the speaker rejected the adjournment motion, the opposition members trooped into well of the house and surrounded the speaker’s podium.

The government on Wednesday ordered inquiry by a retired high court judge in the scandal, which surfaced last week in Vijayawada when some women alleged that they were sexually exploited by the accused for not repaying the loans.

Several victims came forward to lodge the complaints. In the state-wide crackdown, the police arrested over 100 money lenders, including leaders of various political parties.

Under the call money racket, the money lenders extend loans on high interest rates and if the borrowers default, they seize the property or resort to blackmailing and coercion.

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