Kommineni Srinivasa Rao

The attack on BJP president Amit Shah’s convoy in Tirupati is causing fear and anxiety in the TDP, on the one hand. At the same time, the party is also trying to figure out ways of utilising it to further its ends. Amit Shah, accompanied by his family members, visited the Tirumala shrine on a private visit. Normally, such visits do not attract any political attention. Protests are usually staged in neutral places. What is odd is Telugu Desam party workers staging these protests along the route by which Amit Shah was travelling.

It is being said that this attack was staged keeping the Karnataka elections in mind. The critical point to be remembered here is that when the local BJP leader had intimated the police authorities about the likely attack on Amit Shah’s convoy, the police did not pay heed. They looked the other way and let it happen, which gives rise to the suspicion that this must have been done only after orders from the highest level, as the BJP has been alleging.

Chandrababu Naidu has one distinguishing trait. When he is responsible for an incident of this kind, he tries to see if it can be utilised to his own advantage. However, if it goes awry, he distances himself from such incidents completely. He puts out a leak saying that Chandrababu was furious with his partymen for what had happened. Chandrababu Naidu is a master of such games. If it is true that Chandrababu Naidu had nothing to do with the attack which took place in Tirupati, why did he not take any action against the local SP? Why were those who hurled stones at Amit Shah’s convoy spared? Who was behind the SMS messages to TDP workers asking them to carry out an attack at Alipiri in lower Tirupati? Policemen turned into mere spectators in this incident. The TDP got into a defensive mode only when it was asked whether this was how the ruling party behaved with respect to VVIPs visiting the shrine at Tirupati? The TDP was lucky that the matter ended with stone pelting attack. Had it been something more serious, it would have created a countrywide sensation.

It must be said that the TDP is unconcerned about declining values in public life. Its functioning is based on the principle of ad-hocism more than anything else. The Chandrababu Naidu government had detained Leader of Opposition in Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy at the airport itself, when he went to Visakhapatnam to stage a protest demanding Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh. Moreover, Chandrababu Naidu had commented that such protests impeded development. The TDP government under Chandrababu Naidu had placed leaders who were protesting demanding special category status under house arrest. This is the party’s record.

Similarly, Rahul Gandhi too faced a protest by TDP workers when he tried to hold a meeting for SCS to AP in Guntur. Has Chandrababu Naidu forgotten all these incidents? Has he forgotten that students who planned to attend YS Jagan’s programmes demanding SCS were threatened? He said he would send them to jail. Now, the same Chandrababu Naidu gathers students from universities and colleges for his rallies and meetings and tries to project himself as a big advocate of special category status!

The problem with Chandrababu Naidu is his belief that people will believe him regardless of what he does and what he says.

This is the reason why Chandrababu Naidu has given two different kinds of spin to the attack on Amit Shah’s convoy. When criticised for staging such an attack while being in power, he conveniently put out a leak saying that such a thing had not taken place. The local SP said that stones were not thrown, but that one vehicle was slightly damaged when someone hit it with a stick! The DG said the same thing. His Cabinet ministers went so far as to say that the attack was an expression of the anger of the people. Chandrababu’s ambivalence can be clearly seen. He says that protests should be carried out in the form of the Japanese by working extra hours, while his colleagues defend the attack such as the one on Amit Shah’s convoy as spontaneous expression of people’s anger.

People can see how the Chandrababu Naidu government detained a YSRCP MP, Midhun Reddy was detained after being implicated in a small case and how in this case the protesters were let off after bail was granted. At the same time, Chandrababu Naidu is also worried that Amit Shah might view this incident seriously and that the cases against him could be expedited. In the final analysis, the TDP government has lowered the dignity of the Andhra Pradesh state by getting this attack staged by ruling party workers on the BJP president’s convoy.