On the eve of New Year celebrations and his weekend Delhi visit, the intelligence agencies of Andhra Pradesh and Delhi Police warned Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu of a fresh threat to his life from Maoists.
Intelligence agencies stated that underground Maoist activists in Delhi had conducted a "recce" (reconnoitre) of the AP Bhavan six times in the past two months and some of them had "masqueraded as journalists" while doing so.
Naidu, a media-savvy politician, often hosted get-togethers for journalists and even held casual chit-chats with them in the corridors there. But since the police warning, scribes, mostly of the electronic media, have been kept away from the chief minister whenever he was in Vijayawada.
The routine practice of sending Naidu’s itinerary to scribes on WhatsApp or SMS has also been suspended.
"You should come to AP Bhavan only when you are invited and need not hang around," they are told by security personnel at the gates.
For three decades now, Naidu has been in the crosshairs of the erstwhile People’s War Group and now the CPI (Maoists). Since the 1996 plenary of the outlaws held in the deep jungles of the Nallamala forests, Naidu has been identified by them as an "enemy of the people". This was after Naidu revoked the amnesty to Maoists granted by his predecessor NTR and re-issued the ban on PWG and six of its allied organisations imposed in 1992.
On 24 October 2016, Naidu’s son Lokesh was added to the list after the encounter killing of 30 Maoist activists including Munna, the son of Maoist top gun Ramakrishna alias Akkiraju Hargopal earlier in 2016.
Last week’s information about the "Maoists recce" is the third signal from the rebel group since the bifurcation of united AP. Maoist spokesperson Shyam had said in his letter dated of 27 October that the nexus of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chandrababu Naidu was suicidal to democracy and beneficial to big businesses and class enemies.
"Both Naidu and Modi promoted mutually benefiting global capitalistic philosophies in the garb of the welfare of the common man," wrote Shyam in when Naidu had championed the idea of a cashless economy and note ban.
In another open letter in November, after demonetisation, Maoists charged Naidu and Modi of global designs to curb the democratic protests of tribals in Visakhapatnam forests (Manyam forests) and also the construction of Polavaram project. "Naidu had managed to escape an attempt on his life in 2003 and he might not be so lucky the next time," the letter said and warned of a possible suicide attack sending ripples in both the NDA and the AP state administration.
The recent Maoist letter had named five to six other top Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Congress leaders of coastal Andhra region along with Lokesh and Chandrababu Naidu. "The Congress leaders are now shedding crocodile tears over Polavaram and bauxite mining issues though they were instrumental in unleashing untold hardships on tribals and weaker sections when in power," the letter in Telugu said.
Naidu puts on a brave face
"I did harm to no one and I always wish for everybody to be happy," said Naidu last Saturday reacting to the latest intelligence alerts.
During the 2003 attack on him, nine claymore mines exploded as he was travelling by car between Alipiri to Tirupati, wrecking his bullet-proof Ambassador and injuring his collar bone gravely. B Gopalakrishna Reddy, Minister for Information Technology, party MLAs from Tirupati and Puttur, Chadalavada Krishnamurthy (now Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam chairman) and R Rajasekhara Reddy were also seriously wounded.
Similarly, Naidu had escaped another attempt on his life in 1998. The People’s War Group had planted claymore mines in a bullock cart full of pots on a village road during an assembly byelection campaign in Karimnagar district. Maoists triggered the mines but Naidu’s caravan had changed the route minutes before, based on an intelligence tip-off. A constable present on the spot was killed.
Naidu currently enjoys "Z plus" category protection. His security includes the elite NSG apart from state police's Intelligence Security Wing. At present, the chief minister has a security cover with 196 police personnel. He will get an additional 486 now, with the addition of 290 more posts.
A separate Chief Minister’s Security Group (CMSG) is being created in the Andhra Pradesh Police which will monitor movements through CCTV cameras at his residences, camp offices and party offices in Hyderabad and Vijayawada. The CMSG has been equipped with state of art firepower, latest gadgets imported from the US and Israel including surveillance drones. The finance ministry has cleared spending of nearly Rs 250 crores on CMSG in 2017-18. "We are developing infrastructure to ensure that Naidu is the most secure chief minister in India, almost on par with the prime minister,” said N Sambashiv Rao, DGP of AP.
Demonetisation Adds Anger Against Naidu
Sources claim that the Maoists paid a heavy price due to demonetisation. Their funds, worth about few hundred crores, have almost become "waste paper". They could, with great difficulty, exchange 5-10 percent of the "banned currency" in their dumps through the support of local traders and politicians across the country.
“Most of their resources have been wiped out and they don’t have funds to meet regular medical and life supporting expenses of cadres, their families and also the top guns," claimed a senior official of the Intelligence wing called Octopus in Hyderabad.
Maoists are also sore about Naidu’s stand on Polavaram and bauxite mining in Visakhapatnam which they say will hurt the tribals. “Visakhapatnam will become another mining hub like Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand where tribals' livelihood sources have been trampled," said Sagar, an official spokesperson of CPI (Maoists) of the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB) unit in an open letter in October 2016.
“During YSR’s period, the government took up canal work for Polavaram to circumvent the tribal and environment issues and benefit the contractors. What is the guarantee that Naidu will fulfil commitments after the project is completed, as most of the victims are in Telangana and Odisha?” asked Ganesh a Maoist spokesman from AOB.
Sources say that Naidu is milking the situation to his benefit. His security level, say sources, has been enhanced by the Centre and the Union Home Ministry has recommended upping the NSG quota to him from 75 to 200.
"I am not scared of death but only that I want to finish the tasks taken up after bifurcation so that the transition of AP will be smooth," Naidu told his party men at Saturday’s extended general body meeting in Vijayawada on New Year’s Eve.
Updated Date: Jan 04, 2017 16:50 PM