Andhra post-poll violence: CM Jagan and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu’s silence is loud

Reports from Andhra Pradesh intelligence suggest that violence may persist even after the day of results on 4 June

ByBhaskar Basava

Published May 19, 2024 | 11:23 AMUpdatedMay 19, 2024 | 2:34 PM

Pensions

On the day of polling in Andhra Pradesh, 13 May, violence erupted between the ruling YSRCP cadre and the principal opposition TDP cadre in the faction-prone districts of Annamayya, Chittoor, Palnadu, Anantapur, and Nandyal during the elections for the 175 assembly and 25 parliamentary seats.

According to various reports, more than 350 were arrested for hurling stones and petrol bottles, burning vehicles, clashing with sticks, creating panic among the public, and ransacking the houses of rival leaders.

Even as the elections recorded the highest voter turnout of 80.86 per cent, the violence continued prompting the police to implement Section 144 and place top brass at the constituency level under house arrest.

Following that, the Election Commission of India (ECI) suspended the SP’s of Palnadu and Anantapur, and transferred the SP of Tirupati and the District Collector of Palnadu, initiating departmental inquiries against all of them. Further, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been ordered to investigate the failure to curtail the violence and submit an “action taken” report within two days.

Additionally, the ECI also directed the Union Home Ministry to retain 25 companies of central forces in Andhra Pradesh for 15 days after the counting of votes on 4 June.

Related: Violence, clashes and kidnaps mar Andhra simultaneous polls

TDP, YSRCP in a blame game

While the TDP leaders blame YSRCP for the aggression and accuse the police of colluding with the ruling party’s incumbent MLAs, the YSRCP alleges that the police are acting in the interest of TDP contestants, who are in alliance with JSP and the BJP.

As the faction backdrop persists and cadre on both sides are at each other’s throats, surprisingly, there is no appeal or statement from either party chief.

Taking a break, the incumbent Chief Minister and YSRCP chief, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has embarked on a two-week vacation to London, and the former CM and TDP chief, Chandrababu Naidu, visited Shirdi a day ago.

The blame game between both parties and the silence of the chiefs continues while the counting of votes is set to take place on 4 June. Reports from Andhra Pradesh intelligence suggest that violence may persist in these areas even after the day of results.

This hint of post-counting violence occurs against the backdrop of the 2019 post-poll violence. Back then, TDP leaders from the Macharla constituency in Palnadu were forced to leave their home turf after losing power to YSRCP fearing an attack from the ruling party.

Similarly, this time, according to the SouthFirst ground report in Macherla, the cadre said that retaliation depends on which party is winning. TDP cadre seeks revenge, while YSRCP aims to maintain its dominance.

The end to this cycle of revenge seems distant, with no resolution in sight, and it threatens to persist for generations to come.

Related: ECI directs MHA to retain 25 companies of CAPF after results

Chiefs should step in

U.G Srinivasulu, President of the Human Rights Forum, Andhra Pradesh, founded by the late civil rights activist Bala Gopal, expressed to South First that despite being aware of the history of violence in faction-based districts, the incumbent government, ECI, and police have failed to curb the violence.

Srinivasulu explained, “The leaders at the ground level are violating rights through acts of aggression, posing a threat to the freedom and lives of others. From the information I have received, political leaders at the ground level are resorting to acts of aggression with a factional mentality to assert dominance. Additionally, there are reports of homemade bombs and weapons in many places.”

“The only way I see this stopping is if people refuse to fall into the trap of political dominance and become more aware,” he added.

Also Read: Lok Sabha elections 2024: Andhra Pradesh records highest turnout in South India; Telangana registers the lowest

The founder of the Jai Bharat National Party (JBNP) and former CBI Joint Director, VV Lakshminarayana, further asserts that both the TDP and YSRCP are leader-centric parties where any appeal to their cadre is respected at the ground level.

He stated, “In fact, CM YS Jagan should cancel his foreign trip and engage with his party and other leaders to bring an end to this situation, setting an ideal example. The same should be expected from TDP chief Naidu.”

However, Lakshminarayana added that, unfortunately, the state’s interest has been kept aside while the personal interests of both parties and the leaders have taken the lead. “The mere exchange of allegations between the two parties is cause for concern. This factionalism could deepen and persist, driven by a desire for revenge in every election cycle,” he warned.

Also Read: ‘Prashant Kishor doesn’t matter’, says Jagan to IPAC, dismisses his prediction for YSRCP in Andhra polls

(Edited by Neena)