Drug abuse allegations: Telangana Minister K.T. Rama Rao files defamation case against State Congress chief A. Revanth Reddy

Published : September 21, 2021 11:01 IST

K.T. Rama Rao

The war of words on Twitter between K.T. Rama Rao, Telangana Municipal and Industries Minister, and A. Revanth Reddy, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president, entered the legal domain with Rama Rao’s announcement on September 20 that he had filed a defamation suit in the Hyderabad City Civil Court against Revanth Reddy for insinuating that he (Rama Rao) was a drug addict. “Today I have invoked the legal process & filed a suit for defamation and injunction before the Hon’ble court. I am confident that the court process will clenchingly (sic) vindicate the falsity of the canards & lies spread against me and the culprits will be brought to book appropriately,” he tweeted.

Rama Rao is seeking a declaration that Revanth Reddy’s statements are “slanderous, libelous and constitute defamation” and an appropriate injunction against such defamatory statements. The Minister is also seeking a retraction of all false statements and accusations made in the past. The Minister has sought adequate compensation for the malicious campaign and warned that he would initiate criminal proceedings.

Rama Rao, who is also the working president of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), and Revanth Reddy have over the past few years made no bones about the distaste and bitterness each has for the other. The latest bout of acrimony has its genesis in the drug scandal in Telangana, in which several celebrities have been called up for questioning by the Prohibition and Excise Department of the State government and the Enforcement Directorate of the Central government.

The scandal itself goes back to July 2017 when customs department officials arrested Calvin Mascarenhas, a musician, and two others and seized drugs worth Rs.30 lakh from their possession. The duo reportedly told the investigators that they supplied drugs to several Tollywood celebrities. Several film actors were investigated but the Special Investigation Team did not file a charge sheet in the case, effectively leading to its closure. The Enforcement Directorate recently reopened the case and summoned many of the actors once again. Revanth Reddy alleged that some of the actors were close to Rama Rao and he was trying to save them. Revanth Reddy even stated on one occasion that the Minister had become the “Drug Ambassador” of Telangana.

Objecting to the allegations and accusations, Rama Rao offered himself for a drug test with the rider that the Telangana Congress chief’s leader and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi also undergo the drug test. In response, Revanth Reddy came up with his ‘White Challenge’, asking people in public life and celebrities to get themselves tested for drugs in order to send a positive message to the youth. Revanth Reddy added that he was offering the challenge to Rama Rao and Konda Vishweshwar Reddy, former TRS member of Parliament (now with the Congress) who incidentally is a strong critic of K. Chandrashekar Rao, Chief Minister and TRS supremo.

Rama Rao tweeted that he was ready for the challenge provided the tests were conducted at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and Rahul Gandhi was ready for the test too. He also tweeted that it was beneath his “dignity to do it (take a drug test) with Cherlapally jail alumni”, in an indirect reference to Revanth Reddy’s jail term in the ‘Note for Vote’ case. He also asked the TPCC president: “Are you ready for a lie detector test on #Note4Vote?”

Unfortunately, the verbal battle got messier with Revanth Reddy asking Rama Rao to decide the time and place for the lie detector test which Chief Minister Chandrashekar Rao should also take over the alleged corruption charges filed by the CBI in the ‘Sahara Provident Fund and ESI Hospital Construction’ scandals.