The wife of an Andhra Pradesh minister got into an argument with the employees at a toll plaza, and initially refused to pay toll. Eventually, she had to relent and pay up when the toll plaza employees stood their ground, and did not allow her Toyota Fortuner SUV to pass without paying toll. P. Venkata Kumari, the wife of Andhra Pradesh state’s civil supplies minister, Prathipati Pulla Rao, was traveling from Hyderabad to Guntur in her personal Toyota Fortuner SUV when the incident happened at Madgulapalli toll plaza. The toll sought from her was Rs. 56. Ms. Kumari is a politician herself, actively working for the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh. The entire incident was captured on video that has now gone viral. Here, check it out.
As the video indicates, the minister’s wife is seem arguing with the toll plaza employees, one of whom stands his ground and clearly tells the minister’s wife that the Toyota Fortuner will not be allowed to pass without toll. The conversation happens in Telugu, and the toll plaza employee is also seen questioning the minister’s wife about the validity of the ‘MLA’ sticker on the Toyota Fortuner that she was traveling in. According to the toll plaza employee, the MLA sticker’s validity had expired in December 2018.
Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are among a select bunch of government functionaries who are exempted from paying toll while using roads in most states of India. However, this exemption applies only if the MLA is personally traveling in the vehicle that’s seeking an exemption from toll. Also, this exemption is only for the official vehicle of the MLA, which bears a valid sticker/insignia explaining the status of the person traveling in it.
Talking to reporters later in Guntur, the minister’s wife, had this to say,
The election results in Andhra Pradesh have yet been declared. My husband is still a minister and an MLA. How can the toll plaza staff obstruct his car?
This is not the first occasion when politicians in India have gotten into arguments with toll plaza staff over payment of toll. There have been cases of politicians and their escorts brandishing weapons at toll plaza employees when asked to pay up for using a toll road. There have also been incidents of violence by politicians at toll plazas regarding the payment of toll. The presence of CCTV at most toll plazas result in such incidents coming to light, and causing outrage among citizenry.