Andhra Pradesh is increasingly looking like another West Bengal with the ruling YSR Congress and the Opposition Telugu Desam Party arrayed against each other in a bid to politically finish off each other. A hundred days of YSR Congress rule in the state later, Andhra Pradesh is turning into a political battlefield with TDP taking up cudgels against the Jaganmohan Reddy government, accusing it of violence and intimidation against its workers.
In response, the government put former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu and several leaders of his party under house arrest on Wednesday to prevent them from participating in a protest against the government.
Naidu's son Nara Lokesh and several former ministers were also put under house arrest, even as the police imposed curfew in Guntur district to prevent the Opposition from organising a protest against the ruling party's alleged atrocities against TDP cadres.
The former chief minister claimed that around 565 incidents of violence against TDP workers across the state were reported, in which 10 party activists were killed. As many as 28 persons were arrested for posts on social media against the ruling party, while 52 false cases were foisted against party sympathisers, he alleged. Cases under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act were filed against seven former MLAs of the TDP.
Most of the incidents of violence occurred in Guntur district in which the capital Amaravati is located and also in Anantapur district.
Post-election violence is not totally unheard of in Andhra Pradesh, but it was never as fierce, sustained and no-holds-barred as it has been this time. Immediately after the new government was sworn-in, the supporters of the ruling party allegedly constructed a wall to stop TDP supporters from using a road in Ponugupadu village in Guntur district. Reports also appeared in the media about roads being destroyed in parts of villages where voters were suspected to be sympathetic to TDP.
Since then, the TDP has been alleging continued violence against its workers with the police acting at the behest of the YSR Congress. The Opposition party last week set up a rehabilitation centre for the 'victims of the ruling party' in Guntur district. The ruling party retorted that the so-called victims were 'paid artists'.
It is in this backdrop that the TDP called for 'Chalo Atmakur' — a small town in violence-prone Palnadu region of Guntur district. Naidu was to march to Atmakur along with families of 127 workers who were allegedly attacked and threatened.
Undeterred, the ruling party has also planned a counter-march on the same day in protest against alleged violence unleashed by the previous government led by Naidu.
As can be expected, the police issued prohibitory orders and banned all kinds of rallies and dharnas in the Palnadu region as well as in Guntur ahead of the proposed rallies. The police denied permission to 'Chalo Atmakur' rallies called by both the ruling and Opposition parties.
"I have not seen such atrocious governance in my four decades of experience," Naidu, who announced a fast to protest his house arrest, said.
The situation in the state is likely to deteriorate further in the coming days, as the rivalry between the two regional parties worsens by the day.
Although parties in Andhra Pradesh also indulge in one-upmanship, the clashes have not been as intense and personal in the past as they are in neighbouring Tamil Nadu. But Andhra Pradesh is catching up.
Jagan, who got a landslide victory in the recent elections, is determined to crush the TDP led by an aging Naidu. The TDP chief, however, is known for his tenacity and perseverance, and unlikely to give up.
The result is that the political wrangling will continue to the detriment of a fledgling state that is yet to stabilise on every front.
Updated Date: Sep 11, 2019 11:54:51 IST