Telangana’s Director of Public Health Dr Gadala Srinivasa Rao has a knack for remaining in the public eye.
It all began when he was assigned the task of regularly updating people about what the government was doing during the Covid-19 pandemic — a task that should normally have gone to the state health minister, or at least the health secretary, an IAS officer.
But with the Covid updates over, he continues to find ways to have the limelight focused on himself.
This he does either by his actions — trying to garland Health Minister Harish Rao before the cameras and being rebuffed, or attempting to touch the feet of Chief Minister KCR; or by his words — making controversial statements like “typhoid is spread by paani puri” or, in the most recent episode, crediting Jesus Christ for Covid-19 subsiding in India.
So, is Dr Rao just a maverick bureaucrat — or is there a method to his madness? A bit of both, it would seem.
The good doctor, who is a native of Aswapuram in the Bhadradri-Kothagudem district, tries to keep himself in the limelight for good reason. And the reason is political ambition, with those in the know saying he is hoping for BRS ticket from Kothagudem.
This is altogether believable. A visitor to the health campus in Koti, Hyderabad, will come across numerous posters, banners and flex standees with Dr Rao’s photo prominently displayed on them, along with mentions of one or the other of the Health Department’s schemes or programmes. The same is the case if you visit Kothagudem. He will be visible on many banners
Like any good politician, Dr Rao, who joined the Health Department in 2004, also runs a charitable trust in the name of his father in Bhadradri-Kothagudem district. And in April this year he even conducted a tantric puja at Sujathanagar.
All this might just get him a ticket in the Assembly election, especially as BRS chief KCR is said to be keen on dropping quite a few sitting MLAs of the party to bring in fresh faces who have a connect with the people.