A travel agency owned by a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MP Kesineni Srinivas, shut its operations on Saturday, following a tiff with a bureaucrat last month.
All 170 luxury buses of the 88-year-old Kesineni Travels, one of South India’s largest private travel agencies, came to a halt and its offices in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were closed down.
Srinivas is the MP from Vijayawada.
The MP shut the company to protest what he called illegal operations of the travel companies registered in other states.
Kesineni went ahead with his decision, despite Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s efforts to dissuade him.
The MP wanted to announce his decision at a news conference on March 31 but the TDP chief asked him to cancel it and called him for talks.
Kesineni reportedly felt insulted after Naidu made him apologise to Transport Commissioner N. Balasubramanyam for misbehaviour.
In the last week of March, Srinivas, accompanied by TDP MLA from Vijayawada Central, Bonda Umamaheshwara Rao, had heated arguments with the commissioner over the alleged illegal operations of travel operators registered in other states.
The MP alleged that due to the “corrupt” practices of transport officials, around 400 private buses were operating across the state without permits.
He sought immediate seizure of private buses operating without permits.
“Around 150 buses which belong to Orange Travels are operating in Vijayawada and around 400 buses are operating across the state. Owner of Orange travels, Sunil Reddy, is a ‘benami’ (proxy) of YSR Congress chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy. He is influencing transport department officials by offering bribes,” he had alleged.
Subramanyam denied the allegations and said every bus was paying taxes to the Transport Department and operating with permit.
A video also surfaced that showed the TDP MLA Umamaheshwara Rao roughing up one of the security personnel of the Commissioner.
The March 25 incident had snowballed into a major controversy with the transport employees threatening to go on strike if the MP and MLA did not apologise.
According to reports, the company has returned money to customers who had booked tickets in advance.
It is unclear as to what would happen to the employees of the firm.
The Hindu, quoted a source close to Srinivas as saying, “The MP is upset over repeated accusations that the private travels mafia is pulling the strings. So, he has decided to quit the transport business with a sole objective that his business interests should not bring disgrace to the party (TDP).”
Telling The Indian Express, that he was ‘unfairly blamed’ for the spat, Kesineni also said, “The issue with the Transport Commissioner is settled and we have given an unconditional apology. But there are other issues which need to be resolved, which I wont discuss now.”
When asked to elaborate further by the newspaper, he said, “Something is going on in that department. You cannot clap with one hand.”