The ruling YSR Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh has accused Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu of violating the coronavirus lockdown after he returned to the state from Telangana on Monday by road even as domestic flights were resumed across India.
As the formed chief minister reached Amaravati after two months, he was welcomed by a huge crowd, allegedly flouting social distancing norms.
Accompanied by his son Nara Lokesh, the TDP supremo entered AP by road as party supporters lined up along the roadside to welcome his entry to the state after almost 2 months. Stuck in Hyderabad due to the national lockdown, Naidu had previously tried to go to Visakhapatnam in the wake of the LG Polymers gas leakage mishap there last week.
He was finally granted the travel pass by the state government on Sunday. With flights set to resume on Monday, Naidu was supposed to fly to Visakhapatnam to meet the victims of the gas leak there and proceed hence to Amaravati. But a last minute postponement of operations at Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada airports, to Tuesday, forced a change of plans.
TDP leaders accused the YSRCP led state government of postponing the operations at the two airports. Union minister for civil aviation Hardeep Puri had tweeted that the postponement of operations at the two airports was done on the request of the state government.
However, the enthusiasm of TDP supporters also saw breakdown of physical distancing norms at several places as they jostled to greet Chandrababu Naidu.
Slamming Naidu, YSRCP leader Gadikota Srikanth Reddy told news agency ANI: “The whole country is following lockdown till May 31 and everybody is maintaining social distancing and following other guidelines linked to COVID-19. However, Chandrababu Naidu took out a rally from Hyderabad where hundreds gathered, garlanded him without using masks. Being a senior politician how could he do so? He should apologise.”
“Coming from a red zone, he should go into quarantine. Chandrababu Naidu, however, is trying to politicise the situation. He was playing politics through the Zoom app while he was in Hyderabad and suddenly he came in a big convoy. He should be quarantined as he has crossed a state border,” he added.
Meanwhile, arrangements are being made to conduct the party’s annual conclave through video conferencing, on account of the COVID-19 restrictions.
Party sources said that close to 14,000 party cadres would participate in the conclave, which Naidu will attend from the party office at Mangalagiri. The annual conclave coincides with the birth anniversary of party founder and former chief minister of undivided AP, late NT Rama Rao.
The conclave will discuss the political situation in the state and also pass resolutions signalling the party’s strategy in the year ahead. The current situation in the state following the COVID-19 outbreak is expected to figure in the discussion.
Last month, Chandrababu Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh was allegedly seen riding a bicycle while teaching his son Devansh skateboard on deserted roads, violating the lockdown measures in place to fight the coronavirus pandemic.