YSRCP MP Gorantla Madhav has triggered a controversy by claiming that Naidu would die in 2024 and YS Jagan Mohan Reddy would again become the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh.
Former chief minister and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu’s arrest in the multi-crore Skill Development Scam on 9 September has created an upheaval in the politics of Andhra Pradesh. In an interview with Anindita Chowdhury, the TDP supremo’s trusted aide, the party’s lone Rajya Sabha MP and senior advocate Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar explains the impact of the arrest on TDP, the party’s isolation in national politics and the role of BJP in the ongoing tussle between YSRCP and TDP in the state. Excerpts:
Q: The Andhra Pradesh government has registered multiple cases of corruption against N Chandrababu Naidu and there is also the Punganur violence case in Chittoor district. Do you think Mr Naidu and the TDP have a long legal battle ahead?
A: The Supreme Court is currently the only remedy for us. There are already two Prisoner on Transit (PT) warrants against him in two separate cases. We have filed a bail application. In the Punganur case almost all the accused have got bail so he is likely to get bail as well. Then there is the scam of assigned land in Amaravati. This is clearly political vendetta. Remember our late MP Yerran Naidu had filed a case against YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh High Court (in 2011) which led to the order of a CBI inquiry in his suitcase companies. There are 11 cases against YS Jagan and nine against Vijayasai Reddy.
Here, the government’s attitude is very clear. They will crush any opposition to them. The CID chief and additional advocate general held press conferences in Vijayawada, Hyderabad and Delhi. They need to present the evidence in court and not before the media. What is being carried out is obstruction of justice. It is very clear that they want to malign him and are out for character assassination. There are no facts involved. The current government’s intention is very clear.
Q: Is this arrest going to benefit TDP in the elections in the form of public sympathy or is it going to leave the party crumbling and the cadre demoralised?
A: There is huge sympathy for Chandrababu Naidu. Everyday dharnas are going on in every district of Andhra Pradesh despite the police harassment. Police are filing cases every day against the protestors. This is the attitude and modus operandi of the police. There is no human rights, civil liberties and constitutional rights left in Andhra Pradesh. They think the party may not survive if Naidu is arrested. (Nara) Lokesh is also one of their agenda. While he was in Delhi overseeing bail application CID officers were watching him.
Earlier voters were afraid to exercise their franchise. A fear factor was working. However, the arrest has helped the neutral voters to make up their mind in TDP’s favour. Anti-incumbency is quite high. The voters are already against this government because of price rise, factionalism, law and order issues and failed promises. Land grabbing has become rampant. They are preparing false documents of land belonging to NRIs and then using those for occupying the land. There is no personal security. He (YS Jagan Mohan Reddy) is trying to expand the factional politics of Pulivendula (ancestral village of YS Jagan) to the entire state. People in coastal areas and North Andhra are peaceful and they don’t want this happening in the state.
Q: After Mr Naidu’s arrest Pawan Kalyan announced an alliance between TDP and Jana Sena. Is it going to be beneficial at this juncture?
A: The negotiations have been going on for some time. The alliance with Jana Sena will benefit both the parties. We do not want to risk the splitting of anti YSRCP votes and they will win some seats. We are confident we will win.
Q: Chandrababu Naidu has been a key figure in national politics. Yet we hardly saw any reaction from other political parties. Is the TDP completely isolated?
A: This happened because we are neither in the INDIA nor in the NDA. We didn’t choose to join either alliance. We raised the issue of Babu’s (Naidu) arrest in Delhi and we wanted to apprise people of what was happening. Hence we spoke in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha during the Special session of the Parliament. We also wanted to meet senior BJP leaders and the Union home minister but with all the hullabaloo over the Women’s Reservation Bill it was not possible. However, some of the partners of INDIA did speak individually. If we were in any alliance there would have been more reaction. But right now we have to concentrate on the state. The interest of our state is now a priority for us. We are fighting against a dictator and there is a perception in the public that time and again he is being backed by the Centre.
Q: So where do you think the BJP stands in this tussle between TDP and YSRCP, particularly in the context of Mr Naidu’s arrest?
A: We don’t know that but there is a strong rumour circulating in the political circles of Andhra Pradesh that the BJP central leadership was informed prior to Babu’s arrest. They neither welcomed it nor stopped it but they were kept in the loop all along.
Actually people are very angry with the BJP. This government is in the ventilator of the central government, its finances are in doldrums and the chief minister’s kith and kin are involved in his uncle’s (YS Vivekananda Reddy) murder case which is being investigated by the CBI. The YSRCP is openly declaring its activities but people are saying BJP is behind the screen. Day in and day out their MP Vijaya Sai Reddy is supporting every activity of the Centre. There is suspicion that they are in an unofficial alliance.