Fears he might soon be summoned by a Central agency in a criminal case.
HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu has alleged that a conspiracy was being hatched against him by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, YSR Congress leader Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) and that soon he might be summoned by a Central agency in a criminal case.
For the last few days, Naidu has been playing a sort of victim card by blaming a “powerful ring” of leaders ganging up to unseat him from power. On Thursday, Naidu told TDP leaders to be ready to face any type of assault against him as Prime Minister Modi, Jagan and KCR had come together to see that he was defeated in the next elections. “But I am not afraid of them,” he said.
Addressing his senior leaders from his residence in Amaravati on the political strategy for the coming Assembly and Parliament elections, Naidu said that there seemed to be a pattern between several developments in the past few weeks. The defection of TDP MPs—Avanthi Srinivas (Visakhapatnam) and P. Ravindra Babu (Amalapuram–SC)—into Jagan’s YSR Congress was a conspiracy, said Naidu.
The TDP president’s contention was that as he was fighting against the Modi-led BJP government, the Centre was using its investigating agencies like the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against him in the run-up to the elections. Jagan and KCR had been assisting the Centre in this regard, said Naidu. The spate of defections from his TDP to YSR Congress was nothing but a part of the conspiracy, he said.
According to Naidu, KCR was using his influence to wean away his TDP MPs who had assets and businesses in Hyderabad. “Otherwise, why should they (those who defected) join Jagan as till recently they attacked him?” Naidu asked. KCR was doing this at the behest of the BJP which wanted to see TDP ousted from power, he said. Naidu cited the revived investigation of former TDP MLA (now Telangana Congress working president) A. Revanth Reddy by the ED in the four-year-old cash-for-vote scam. “The interrogation of Revanth is actually targeted against me. Don’t be surprised if I get summons from ED or some other Central agency in the next few days,” said Naidu.
The CM tried to make light of the cash-for-vote scam, saying that he had done no wrong and had nothing to do with the case which was filed by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Telangana. “If they try to falsely implicate me in the case, I have my own (AP) ACB and we can fight legally,” said the TDP president.
The GST notices to popular Tollywood star Mahesh Babu, who is the brother-in-law of TDP’s Jayadev Galla, too, was part of the harassment of his supporters by the Centre, said Naidu. “They (Centre) are digging up old cases or closed issues to frame me and my supporters. For instance, they have issued notices to one of our party leaders in a 14-year-old cheque bounce case,” said the CM.
Listing out the instances of tax notices to the supporters of TDP in Hyderabad, Naidu said that this was being done to force them to move away from the party or donate funds to YSR Congress. “It was an open secret that KCR has been working overtime to defeat me in the elections as I have campaigned against him in the elections in Telangana,” said Naidu.
However, Naidu’s charges have been rejected by both the BJP and YSR Congress leaders. BJP general secretary G.V.L. Narasimha Rao at a media conference said that Naidu had lost balance and was afraid of losing power in the coming elections. “All surveys point to a disastrous performance by Naidu’s TDP and he is sure to lose miserably,” Rao said. He rubbished all claims of conspiracy at the PM’s level.
Naidu wondered why BJP president Amit Shah and Modi were frequently touring Andhra Pradesh when their party was not in a position to win any seats here. “The tours of the PM and Shah were only aimed at helping YSR Congress. BJP though appears to be fighting elections on its own; their secret agenda was to help Jagan win,” the CM said.
YSR Congress official spokesman Ambati Rambabu, too, ridiculed Naidu’s allegations that the defections from his party were a conspiracy. “How can he say that? Is it not a fact that Naidu had admitted 22 of our MLAs into his party and made four of them ministers four years ago? It is a sign of the falling graph of Naidu that his own MPs and MLAs are deserting him now,” said Rambabu. The YSR Congress leader alleged that Naidu was trying to enter into “secret alliance” with Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena and Congress, though they would fight each other officially. The spokesman said that there were reports that Naidu would allow Jana Sena to win at least three MPs and 30 MLAs in select districts. Rambabu also questioned Naidu’s flip-flop on his ties with Congress president Rahul Gandhi. “Naidu says he would not have any truck with Congress in Andhra, but rubs shoulders with Rahul Gandhi whenever he goes to Delhi or they are in other places. Naidu is afraid of openly aligning with Congress which hastily divided AP,” said the YSR Congress leader.