The CM wore black to the Assembly to protest against the ‘injustice’ meted out to Andhra Pradesh by the Centre.

 

Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu is on an overdrive to whip up Telugu sentiment and described the appointment of M. Venkaiah Naidu as the Vice-President of India as a sort of punishment and forced retirement from politics by the Bharatiya Janata Party BJP leadership. Naidu wore black dress on Friday in the AP Assembly in protest against the “injustice” to AP at the hands of BJP-led Centre.

As elections to the Lok Sabha and the Assembly are nearing, politics in Andhra Pradesh, which accounts for 25 MP seats, has heated up and both the ruling TDP and the main Opposition YSR Congress joined the Black Day call given by some organisations in protest against the denial of special status to Andhra. However, Naidu went a step ahead and turned the Assembly into a protest meeting and passed a resolution too.

It was a strange spectacle in the Assembly as the CM and all the ministers and the TDP MLAs turned up in black robes and it looked like a public meeting as speaker after speaker lashed out at the BJP-led Centre. As the main Opposition YSR Congress boycotted the Assembly Budget session that commenced Thursday, there were only two BJP MLAs in the House.

Naidu went to Delhi in the evening in the same black dress to address a meeting of non-NDA parties at the Constitution Club. TDP MPs turned up in black dress in the Parliament during the presentation of the interim budget by Finance Minister Piyush Goyal. TDP MLAs and cadre joined the protests across the state, though technically, they were not part of the body that gave the Black Day call.

Speaking with emotion in the Assembly, Naidu said Prime Minister Modi has systematically removed Venkaiah Naidu from active politics by making him the Vice President. “God alone knows whether it is a promotion or demotion for Venkaiah Naidu who used to be active in public life and championed the cause of Andhra at the national level,” the CM said.

Naidu’s comments came against the backdrop of recalling Venkaiah Naidu’s contribution to the cause of Andhra when the latter was a Union minister in the first three years of the Modi government. The CM said that after Venkaiah Naidu became the Vice-President, there was none to fight for the interests of Andhra Pradesh at the Centre. Why was he removed from the public, nobody knows,” said the TDP president.

Naidu also expressed his displeasure over there being no senior and strong BJP leader from South India at the Centre. He said that after the demise of Union minister Ananth Kumar, there was only one Cabinet minister Sadananda Gowda and there is no proper representation to the southern states. “They (Modi) want puppet leadership from the south which I will not allow,” Naidu shouted.

This is not the first time that Naidu had alleged that the PM wanted to remove him from power as he had become an obstacle to the BJP’s plans to install a Tamil Nadu type pliable government in Andhra. “Here, YSR Congress and Pawan Kalyan are playing to the tune of BJP which wants to weaken us,” Naidu said in the Assembly.

Naidu will also be participating in a protest demonstration in Delhi on 11 February, to highlight the same issue—injustice to Andhra at the hands of the Centre. The venue of the protest—either at Jantar Mantar or AP Bhavan—will be decided in the next few days depending on permission from the Delhi Police, sources said.

The protest demonstration is bound to become a controversy as Naidu will lead his entire Cabinet and the MPs and MLAs to turn up there. Already, there are doubts expressed from certain quarters on whether a CM can lead a protest demonstration against the Central government. Naidu will be aping Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, though Delhi is not a full-fledged state, they pointed out.

This Delhi demonstration is culmination of Naidu’s six-month-long protest rallies in all the 13 districts in Andhra, in the name of “Dharma Porata Deekshas” (Protests for justice). These meetings have become a butt of criticism from the Opposition parties as the entire police machinery and general administration have been used for the purpose.

Former minister and Naidu’s close relative Daggubati Venkateswara Rao this week questioned the CM’s decision to stage a dharna in Delhi, saying that it was a gross misuse of power. Venkateswara Rao, husband of former Union minister and BJP leader Purandeswari, recently called on YSR Congress leader Y.S. Jagan and pledged his support to the party. Rao’s son Hitesh has joined Jagan’s party.

YSR Congress and the BJP has attacked Naidu for whipping up regional sentiments and wasting public money on his protest rallies which were nothing but an “election gimmick”. BJP MLC in AP Madhav on Friday said that Naidu had failed to utilise the funds given by the Centre in the last four years and the TDP government was steeped in corruption.

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