Amaravati, Jan 6: The onset of election year has already generated political heat in Andhra Pradesh with BJP going on the offensive to counter Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s diatribe against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The action of BJP leaders and workers to block Naidu’s convoy in Kakinada and the anger vent by him on Friday and the protest by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) workers in front of BJP state president Kanna Laxminarayana’s house in Guntur the next day indicate the shape of things to come in the run up to simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state Assembly.
While Naidu has been targeting Modi ever since TDP walked out of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in March last year, he intensified the attacks in recent days, evoking sharp reaction from BJP.
The interaction Modi had with BJP workers in four Lok Sabha constituencies in North Andhra through video-conference on Wednesday provided ammunition to BJP cadre to launch a tirade against Naidu.
For the first time Modi directly targeted Naidu, accusing the state government of corruption. “Close to Rs. 20,000 crore have been released as resource gap and revenue deficit funding. This money has been released. If they say that Andhra government has not received it, then who has pocketed this money. Where is the money meant for the welfare of the people of Andhra Pradesh is going. We should ask this question,” said Modi in never before attack on TDP chief.
“We are committed for the welfare of people of Andhra Pradesh but those sitting in government will have to account for every single rupee. Information should be transparent. This is public money. We can’t give this without proper accounts,” said the PM.
Political observers say Modi’s attack on Naidu charged up BJP cadre, whose morale was at its lowest due to attack by Naidu, blaming the Centre for all the problems faced by the state. The TDP chief was not losing any occasion to target Modi for betraying Andhra Pradesh.
“I understand your pain,” was how Modi reacted when BJP leaders used harsh words for Naidu. “I am aware what is going on in AP. Do you expect them to go and tell people that they have not been able to fulfill any of their promises. They will naturally blame Modi,” he said.
“People know the reality of those in power in AP. What do they speak. They speak only lies. What are they interested in. They are only interested in blaming. What do they do. They indulge only in scams.”
He also accused Naidu of rubbing slat into the wounds of people of AP by joining hands with Congress who made the worst attacks on Telugu pride.
Modi said Naidu had given up his ideology. “NTR founded TDP to safeguard Telugu pride. He used to call Congress ‘dusht’ (wicked) but today those in power are treating it as ‘dost’ (friend).”
PM’s counter came after Naidu stepped up his attack on Modi in recent days, calling him a ‘blackmailer’. Naidu accused Modi of resorting to vendetta against him demanding justice to the state.
The TDP president said three Modis were attacking him. He termed Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao as ‘middle Modi’ and YSR Congress chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy as ‘younger Modi’.
As KCR has already declared that TRS will work against TDP in the coming elections in Andhra Pradesh and dropped hints that he may back YSR Congress, Naidu appears to be setting the narrative for the coming elections. He seems to be deliberately turning this into Naidu versus the rest battle.
Naidu had long been accusing BJP of hatching a conspiracy with KCR, Jagan and Pawan Kalyan to weaken TDP. He recently dropped hints that he may be ready to work with Pawan Kalyan, though the latter was quick to rule out any such possibility.
Political observers say Naidu apparently realized that making everybody an enemy will not work and it will be better to keep the channels open for a possible alliance with Jana Sena.