The Bharatiya Janata Party’s former Endowment Minister in Andhra Pradesh, P. Manikyala Rao, on Saturday, demanded a police probe into the charges made by Telugu film star and political activist Shivaji that the national party has hatched a larger conspiracy codenamed “Operation Dravida” to come to power in the southern states through unfair means. Rao wrote a letter to Andhra Pradesh director general of police (DGP), M. Malakondaiah and urged him to register a case forthwith.

Rao in his complaint said that the actor’s charges were part of a plan to damage the BJP’s image not only in Andhra Pradesh, but in other states that are going to the polls soon. “These baseless charges are aimed at spoiling the prospects of BJP whose popularity is growing among the people in these states,” said Rao, who quit Chandrababu Naidu’s Cabinet earlier this month.

The BJP leader’s complaint comes in the wake of Shivaji’s video tapes to different Telugu TV news channels alleging that “a national party has hatched a grand conspiracy to unseat the present non-BJP governments in the southern states of Andhra, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala”.

Shivaji joined the BJP four years ago and left the party recently to fight for special status for Andhra. He has alleged that the national party codenamed the conspiracy as “Operation Dravida” and sub-divided it for different states—Operation Garuda for Andhra and Telangana, Operation Ravana for Tamil Nadu and Kerala and Operation Kumara for Karnataka.

Shivaji, who sent his videos in pen drives to TV studios on Thursday and Friday, said that the national party has set aside an amount of Rs 4,800 crore to execute the operation through a network of people who are guided by a chief strategist from Karnataka. The actor-turned activist alleged that the operation was coordinated by some former IAS officials and journalists.

Shivaji in his videos explained the structure of the operation by using charts and graphs on a blackboard and said that the national party was in a hurry to come to power in all the southern states soon, but nowhere mentioned the name of the party. He said that a principal Opposition party, referring to Jagan Mohan Reddy, and a new player, referring to Pawan Kalyan, were being used by this national party.

Shivaji said that the national party was going to install one of its important national leaders as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh after the 2019 elections. Several TDP ministers and MLAs have backed the charges and said that people must be alert to such operations. Jagan’s YSR Congress and Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena are silent on Shivaji’s allegations.

However, Manikyala Rao told the media at Vijayawada that certain forces were on an overdrive to damage BJP’s popularity in Andhra. “We are strong and are going to expand our base here as people are fed up with the present ruling party. The allegation of Operation Dravida should be investigated by police and those who level baseless charges must be punished,” he said.

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