Former Andhra Pradesh speaker and Telugu Desam Party leader Kodela Sivaprasada Rao died at a private hospital in Hyderabad on Monday afternoon, NDTV reported. Rao reportedly attempted suicide on Sunday night.

“As per what we saw, there were injury marks on his neck,” the party’s Telangana unit President L Ramana told The News Minute. “However, the true cause of the death will be revealed after the police conducts an autopsy.”

A case of “death in suspicious circumstance” was registered, which indicated the police had not eliminated foul play, NDTV reported.

The former Speaker’s body was shifted to Osmania Hospital for postmortem and the police initiated further inquiry under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure [enquiry and investigation into suicide], according to The News Minute. Police officials also confirmed that ligature marks were present on Rao’s neck, but said the autopsy would reveal actual cause of death.

Earlier in the day, police had refused to confirm whether Rao had killed himself. “We are investigating what happened,” said Banjara Hills Assistant Commissioner of Police K Srinivasa Rao. “Further details will be revealed soon.”

Rao’s nephew Kanchi Sai said he was not willing to believe any rumours and added that his relatives and friends in Hyderabad had told him his uncle had been murdered.

Last month, the former speaker was under the scanner after admitting he had shifted expensive furniture from the old state Assembly building in Hyderabad to his home in Sattenapalli in Guntur district. Following this, the state Assembly secretary filed a police complaint, accusing Kodela of removing the furniture in an unauthorised manner.

A few months back, Kodela, his son, and his daughter were booked by the police in Sattenapalli and Narasaraopet on charges of cheating, intimidation and extortion. At the time, the YSR Congress Party, which is now in power, had accused Kodela and his family of acting like local “mafia” and extorting money from local people.

“He was Palnadu Tiger,” TDP leader Buddha Venkateshwara Rao told NDTV. “If he committed suicide, you can understand how much pressure he was under.”

Rao was born in Kandlagunta in a family of farmers, and went on to become a doctor after graduating from Guntur Medical College in Kurnool. He joined the Telugu Desam Party in 1983, and became speaker in 2014 after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. He was a six-time MLA – he won from Narasaraopet five times and was elected from Sattenapalli in 2014 – and served as the home minister and the panchayat raj minister.

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