By Kommineni Srinivasa Rao
Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu is dragging his party deeper into an inextricable quagmire by trying to attack constitutional bodies. In the process, he is only bringing himself and his party into disrepute. It is alright if a politician does not give a certificate of efficiency or good functioning to a constitutional body, but if he criticises it indiscriminately, something has to be wrong.
Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu says that neither the ED nor the IT nor the CBI can function in the state. Now, he has added the Election Commission to his list of windmills at which he flies with his lance like Don Quixote.
One can imagine the extent to which Chandrababu Naidu and Intelligence chief AB Venkateswara Rao have developed proximity from the fact that he brought out a fresh GO to protect the officer, defying the EC and keeping him out of the purview of the Election Commission. When the chief minister goes to this extent to protect a hand-picked officer, doubts arise in the minds of all about his intentions.
When questioned how he could appoint so many officials belonging to his community as police officers, Chandrababu Naidu turns around and claims that those pointing fingers at him are attributing caste to police officials. Chandrababu has his own set of rules it appears, by which no organisation or constitutional body can question him or his officials.
The TDP supremo argues that no bank or department should pursue recovery of Rs. 6000 crores of loan default and Rs 500 crore GST dues from TDP Rajya Sabha MP, Sujana Chowdary. Similarly, Chandrababu blames the income tax authorities when more than Rs.100 crores of unaccounted money is seized from TDP Rajya Sabha MP CM Ramesh.
In the case of the murder attempt on YSR Congress Party president YS Jagan Mohan Reddy at Visakhapatnam airport on October 25, 2018, or YS Jagan‘s uncle YS Vivekananda Reddy‘s murder more recently, the chief minister refused to let the CBI probe either case. Chandrababu Naidu insists that a team of police officials appointed by him should probe the case.
Even when YS Vivekananda Reddy‘s daughter Sunita Reddy expressed suspicions regarding the involvement of minister Adinarayana Reddy and other TDP leaders, the police did not turn their eye towards them. When the TDP MLA from Dharmavaram Varadapuram Suri, said that people would have unlimited freedom to kill and attack others for six months once the TDP is re-elected, the comment did not attract any action. Chandrababu Naidu‘s brother-in-law and his son Nara Lokesh’s father in law, Nandamuri Balakrishna, threatened mediapersons saying that he could wield knives. Yet there was no reaction. Chandrababu Naidu believes that the Election Commission should function as per his wishes.
In 2009, when Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy was in power, at the time of elections, Chandrababu Naidu and other alliance partners complained to the Election Commission against the DGP of the state, SSP Yadav. Responding to their complaint, the EC transferred the official. The video of Chandrababu Naidu’s address to the media at that time that the entire official machinery comes directly under the Election Commission at the time of polls, is still there.
However, the same Chandrababu Naidu arguing that the intelligence wing of the police department does not come under the election commission, proved to be astonishing to the chief electoral officer of the state. Regardless of the outcome in the AP High Court, the Intelligence Department of the state has come into disrepute. The DG intelligence, AB Venkateswara Rao has found himself totally discredited. In the past, he had a good track record and and a fair reputation as SP.
However, from the time that he joined the Intelligence department, he has been at the eye of many storms and has become a controversial figure. His name cropped up during the defection of 23 YSRCP MLAs into TDP. He has been playing a key role in decision making within the TDP and had a hand in the selection of candidates as well, it is said. TDP leaders who came out of the party now say openly that AB Venkateswara Rao functioned more like a party worker than a police official.
Any self-respecting official would opt to take retirement or leave if he is accused of being casteist in his approach. That is not the case here.
If the government has a run in with the Election Commission over the transfer of an intelligence official, it appears that a major plan has been drawn up to indulge in malpractices during elections. One SP was accused of letting off a vehicle belonging to a ruling party leader in which Rs. 5 crores were being transported. Should the election commission take such instances lightly? Is this what Chandrababu Naidu wants?
When leaders like Chandrababu Naidu try to vitiate the democratic process by pumping money, officials like AB Venkateswara Rao helping them, poses a grave threat to democracy. The Election Commission should take a serious view and ensure that such instances do not take place anywhere in the country.