‘Detained’ Naidu, hostile BJP and 100 days of Jagan government in Andhra Pradesh
Today’s protests and detention of TDP leaders and Naidu who has long been contained and detained politically for the last 100 days could well be a new turn in politics of this coastal state.
Andhra Pradesh is currently witnessing a tense faceoff. The Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSR Congress government has blocked the Telugu Desam Party chief and former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and his son from leaving their residence to lead a protest rally. Both father and son Nara Lokesh are under house arrest. TDP had called for a protest march over attacks on its workers allegedly by the supporters of the YSR Congress Party in the Atamkur and Amravati region of the state.
The spectacle of the protests and arrests today has certainly brought a feeble-looking TDP suddenly back into the limelight. Police had to resort to imposing Section 144 in Narasaraopeta, Sattenapalle, Palnadu, and Gurajala to stop the TDP cadre from taking to the streets. Naidu had called for a 12-hour hunger strike across the state on Wednesday. He claims that around 500 TDP activists and sympathisers were attacked since the Jagan government came to power in Andhra Pradesh in May.
“This is dictatorship, we are being stopped in an undemocratic way. TDP leaders and workers are being harassed. YSRCP MLAs are openly threatening us, saying the police is with them,” TDP leader Nara Lokesh told waiting media as he was stopped from leaving his residence for the ‘Chalo Atamakur’ rally. YSRP has also called for a counter-protest rally to contain the TDP surge on the streets.
TDP Chief N Chandrababu Naidu: This government is violating human rights & fundamental rights. I am warning the government. I am warning police also. You cannot play this type of politics. You cannot control us by arresting. Whenever they allow me, I'll continue 'Çhalo Atmakur' pic.twitter.com/XhQfwxDR0Z— ANI (@ANI) September 11, 2019
Police have also pressed for prohibitory orders in many parts of the state to prevent any showdown between the cadres of the YSR Congress Party and the TDP.
The first 100 days of Jagan’s rule in Andhra Pradesh has been a copybook case of ever-changing regional political equations, with the BJP pulling the strings from Delhi and the Congress virtually absent in the whole equation.
Jagan trumped his long-time rival Chandrababu Naidu in May this year to ensure his maiden Chief Ministership, a post his father and Congress strongman Y S Rajasekhara Reddy held till his death in a helicopter crash in 2009. Reddy was at the beginning of his second term as chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh when the accident happened.
What followed for Jagan was a series of money laundering cases and the Congress leadership denying his right to the legacy of Rajasekhara Reddy. He formed his own regional party in 2011. With the TDP in power in Andhra and the Congress at the Centre, Jagan braved the hostile circumstances to gather sympathy and support for his political future.
Jagan’s energies after coming to power in May have been concentrated mostly on hitting back at his rival, Naidu, and wiping out the symbols of his rule. Interestingly, both the YSRP and the BJP seemed to be natural allies in the run-up to the polls as they both attacked Naidu in unison over his pet projects of the new Andhra capital Amaravati and the Polavaram irrigation project. From the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the charge against Naidu during the polls of corruption in both the projects
In the last 100 days, Jagan has put the Polavaram irrigation project on hold and for retendering, and his senior colleagues in the cabinet have announced publicly that the Amaravati capital city project is being reconsidered because it is in a region of environmentally fragile floodplains.
Lately, the BJP has been scuttling Jagan’s plans and not showing any of the pre-poll camaraderie between the two. The Modi-led government in parliament has announced that the retendering process of the Polavaram project would delay the project and escalate costs, and hence any such move is untenable. The BJP has organised protests against any move to shift the site of the proposed state capital from Amaravati to elsewhere.
The BJP, almost a non-entity in Andhra politics with less than 1 per cent vote share in the 2019 general elections, even at the height of the Modi wave, is also sharpening its attack on Jagan for his Christian faith. Its leaders in the state have called for protests, alleging that Jagan has used public money for missionary activities.
The political situation in Andhra Pradesh is fast changing. Once a strong force, the Congress now appears to be clueless, while a non-existent BJP is riding high on propaganda to attack the Jagan government and take on the opposition space. Today’s protests and detention of TDP leaders and Naidu, who has been contained and detained politically for the last 100 days, could well augur a new turn in the politics of this coastal state.