Attack on Jagan Mohan Reddy: Andhra Pradesh govt sets up SIT to probe incident; TDP, YSR Congress trade charges

An ugly political war has erupted over the attack on YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Thursday. The incident, instead of raising security concerns, soon assumed political colours, with both the TDP and the YSR Congress accusing each other of hatching a conspiracy to gain political mileage.

The Opposition YSR Congress president YS Jagan Mohan Reddy sustained an injury when a waiter at a restaurant stabbed him with a small knife at the VIP lounge of the Visakhapatnam airport on Thursday.

The government has announced the setting up of a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the incident. However, even before the probe began, the state chief minister held a press conference to dismiss the incident as a propaganda strategy by the Opposition leader. N Chandrababu Naidu, in a hurriedly called late night press conference, said that the accused has confessed that he is an admirer of Reddy and that he carried out such an attack only to ensure sympathy for his idol.

Interestingly, Naidu also made a reference to the so-called Operation Garuda, in which actor Sivaji said that the BJP-led central government is hatching a conspiracy to destabilise the TDP government. In his claim, Sivaji had said that a non-lethal attack on Reddy would take place and subsequently, the state would witness disturbances and rioting engineered by north Indian gangs. He had further predicted that the Centre would dismiss the Naidu government for its failure to control the riots.

 Attack on Jagan Mohan Reddy: Andhra Pradesh govt sets up SIT to probe incident; TDP, YSR Congress trade charges

Jagan Mohan Reddy stabbed at Visakhapatnam airport. ANI

The chief minister, in his press conference on Thursday, said that if one looks at the sequence of events, everything is happening as Sivaji has predicted. He also alleged that the BJP scripted this attack as he has been fighting against the ‘injustice’ meted out by the Centre to Andhra Pradesh.

It was surprising that Naidu gave credence to such unsubstantiated claims from a person who is neither an expert on security nor on politics. Why did the state government not take precautionary measures, if it really believed the story? Why did the police and intelligence officials fail to procure more details from Sivaji? The chief minister and his cabinet colleagues have no answers.

TDP leaders have termed the incident a cheap tactic adopted by the YSR Congress to generate sympathy for its leader ahead of polls. On the other hand, YSR Congress leaders have described the incident as a conspiracy that the state government failed to check. The TDP explained that the incident occurred at an airport, the security of which is the responsibility of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) which is under the Union government. The state DGP RP Thakur also clarified that the state police has nothing to do with airport security.

Surprisingly, the state police chief also joined the political cacophony by corroborating the TDP’s allegations. The police hastily concluded that the accused is an admirer of Reddy. Mahendra Patrudu, additional deputy commissioner of police, Visakhapatnam said that the alleged attacker, J Srinivasa Rao, is a fan of Reddy. L Arjun, assistant commissioner of police, west zone, also made the same statement, and said that the accused committed the act for publicity.

Ambati Rambabu, spokesperson of the YSR Congress, said that the SIT would also end up stating what the police and the ruling political establishment have already been saying. The YSR Congress has already approached the high court seeking an independent investigation.

The YSR Congress has described the attack as an attempt to murder its leader. It has also described the incident as an abject failure of the Naidu government.

Naidu, on his part, has not put forward any concrete evidence to substantiate his allegations against the BJP. Meanwhile, the BJP, which has of late taken a strident anti-TDP position, seems to be coming to the rescue of the YSR Congress. The saffron party has called for the dismissal of the Chandrababu Naidu government. The BJP's remarks have only provided ammunition to the claims of Naidu and the so-called revelations on Operation Garuda, about the central government conspiring against Andhra Pradesh and its government.

The Telugu media, known for its political partisanship, joined the preposterous battle by giving disproportionate coverage to the claims and counter-claims. The social media networks of both parties plunged into action, adding fuel to the fire.

The democratic discourse, which is crucial during the election season, seems to have become a casualty. The polarisation between two parties and individuals does not, in any way, serve the cause of the people, as their issues are relegated to the back burner.

Updated Date: Oct 26, 2018 20:26:38 IST