Last week, Telugu actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan launched an attack on the Telugu Desam Party and Bharatiya Janta Party, demanding a special status for Andhra Pradesh.
Addressing a mega rally in Tirupati's Indira Maidanam, the Jana Sena Party founder evoked Telugu pride and slammed both the Centre and state government on not fulfilling promise of special status for Andhra Pradesh.
Various TDP and BJP leaders reacted to the allegations but most leaders treaded carefully.
Seeking to counter Kalyan's criticism that the TDP was probably afraid of the CBI and hence not raising its voice for special category status to Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu asserted that he was scared of none.
Though Kalyan did not name him, Naidu chose to address the former on the issue saying, "Pawan Kalyan should remember that I am not afraid of anyone. It's not correct to talk like YSR Congress or Congress people."
At his public meeting in Tirupati on Sunday evening, Kalyan wondered what was preventing the TDP from fighting for the rightful demand of special status to the state.
"They are apparently afraid that the Centre will set the CBI on them (TDP). Do you have anything to hide that you are so scared? Speak out, stall Parliament and achieve special status," Kalyan had said.
Addressing a public meeting in Anantapuram district on Sunday evening, the Chief Minister recalled the Maoists' attack on him at Alipiri in October, 2003. "I was not even scared for my life. I never went back on anything. So, there is no question of me being afraid of anyone or anything," Chandrababu remarked.
Separately, TDP MP from Anantapuram JC Diwakar Reddy lashed out at the actor-politician saying that the latter was speaking without any comprehension of the subject. He also offered to quit the TDP and his seat in the Parliament, if doing so could guarantee special category status for the state, reported The New Indian Express.
"He (Pawan) was emotional and lacked clarity in his speech. This is not a film, this is reality and Pawan Kalyan should understand the parliamentary system before criticising our functioning," he said.
"He neither has the age nor experience. He better not live in an illusory world," the veteran politician cautioned.
Anakapalli MP M Srinivas, whom Kalyan targeted by name, reacted strongly in Visakhapatnam saying he was "not born with a golden spoon" unlike the star.
"I came up the hard way in life and earned wealth. It is not right for him to speak about it. As MPs we have been doing everything to secure special status to the state," Srinivas said.
Kalyan had asked the Centre not to look at some rich MPs of TDP and deny special status to AP. Srinivas was one of those he named.
Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda also lent his support to the demand of granting special category status to Andhar Pradesh, asserting it's the Centre's responsibility to honour the commitment made in Parliament.
When asked about Kalyan's fight for special status, he said, "Kalyan is a young man full of energy. No need to suspect his ability to secure special status to the state."
BJP made light of Kalyan's remarks against the party's committment on granting Andhra Pradesh special status. BJP State general secretary Jammula Shyamkishore said, “Pawan Kalyan or any other leader or party has no right to question the integrity of the BJP and its leadership. What they are doing now is for their political existence and not in the larger interests of the State.”
He added, "We have given 10 Central institutions out of 11 promised for the State in a record time of two years. Modi government is ready to do much more. My request to Pawan Kalyan is not to mislead people and create political unrest in the state."
BJP MLC Somu Veerraju suggested that Kalyan should arrange a meet with PM Modi to directly address the special category status issue. He added that Kalyan has the right to speak on the issue just like everyone else, offering to arrange a meet with the PM for the actor.
According to The Hans India, BJP leader U Srinivasa Raju said “I want Pawan Kalyan or others to debate on the benefits of Special Status in the light of new economic policies.”
City Congress president and former legislator Malladi Vishnu took offense to Kalyan's statement and said that the Congress has been fighting for special status right for a very long time. He took strong exception to Kalyan's remarks.
With inputs from PTI