Hyderabad, Feb. 13: Engineer, industrialist, politician, pepper-sprayer…
Lagadapati Rajagopal today graduated from a bachelor of technology in mechanical engineering to a master of disruption when he used pepper spray on fellow parliamentarians following a ruckus over the introduction of the Telangana bill.
The MPs had tried to stop him from holding up proceedings in the Lok Sabha.
This was, however, not the first time that the anti-Telangana Congress MP from Vijayawada, chairman of the Lanco group of companies, had resorted to unconventional means to get his point across, though this was certainly the most stunning.
In 2010, when the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) had threatened not to allow Rajagopal to enter Hyderabad, the MP, who turns 50 on Sunday, reached the Andhra Pradesh capital by an overnight bus and got himself admitted to a hospital.
A BTech from the private V.R. Siddhartha Engineering College in Vijayawada, Rajagopal, one of the richest MPs in the current Lok Sabha, comes from the politically influential Lagadapati family of coastal Andhra. Son-in-law of Parvathaneni Upendra, who was information minister in the I.K. Gujral government, he joined active politics in the 2004 elections when he contested from Vijayawada.
It was his father-in-law’s former constituency but the transfer was smooth as Upendra gave up his political career to satisfy his enterprising son-in-law.
With Rajagopal, Lanco’s principal shareholder, into politics full time, his brother Madhusudhan Rao now looks after the group’s power, infrastructure and other businesses. A third brother, Sridhar Rao, is a film producer.
Sources close to Rajagopal described him as the kingpin in Andhra chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy’s “plans” to float a Samaikhyandhra (united Andhra) party.
Since January, banners and hoardings have been put up at prominent spots highlighting why the state should not be divided. Some one lakh special T-shirts have been readied, too. “All depends on what the CM wants to do,” Rajagopal had said in a recent interview.
Rajagopal’s rivals have already made it clear what they want to do. The TRS and the MIM say the 400 acres the Lanco group has acquired for an infrastructure project is wakf land. “We will take away the Lanco land when Telangana is formed,” TRS chief K. Chandrashekhar Rao has said.