Andhra Pradesh: Chandrababu Naidu stages sit-in, addresses public from vehicle top in Kuppam

In a power move on Friday, the TDP chief nearly defied prohibitory orders in addressing a gathering at a village in his home constituency.

BySNV Sudhir

Published Jan 06, 2023 | 11:01 PMUpdatedJan 06, 2023 | 11:50 PM

TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu at a sit-in protest in the Kuppam constituency in Andhra Pradesh on Friday, 6 January, 2023. (Supplied)

TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu on Friday, 6 January, nearly defied the prohibitory orders in Andhra Pradesh — following the issue of Government Order, or GO, No 1 — and addressed a gathering at the Gudipalle village in his home constituency Kuppam.

The show of power came as Naidu was touring Kuppam, his family bastion.

On Wednesday, Naidu had to go door to door in the Peddur village of Kuppam to meet his party workers and also the general public after he was denied permission to hold a roadshow — banned under GO No 1 after two stampedes at events attended by Naidu.

On Thursday, he was majorly confined indoors, holding a series of review meetings with the local leaders and party workers from several villages of the Kuppam Assembly segment.

Naidu has represented Kuppam in the state Assembly seven times. It is from Kuppam that his son Nara Lokesh is expected to launch his padayatra — Yuva Galam, or Voice of Youth — on 27 January.

Also read: Will his 4,000 km padayatra help Nara Lokesh?

Naidu’s sit-in protest

On Friday, Chandrababu Naidu staged a sit-in protest on the road near the bus station at the Gudipalle Mandal headquarters as the police prevented him from going to the local party office.

TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu addresses a crowd in the Kuppam constituency in Andhra Pradesh on Friday, 6 January, 2023. (Supplied)

TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu addresses a crowd in the Kuppam constituency in Andhra Pradesh on Friday, 6 January, 2023. (Supplied)

After the protest, Naidu climbed atop one of the vehicles in his convoy and addressed the public, slamming Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy for the government order prohibiting roadshows.

He also asked the police to stop being a “slave” of the government and work as per the law.

The police erected barricades on the roads in Gudipalle, which prevented TDP workers from entering the village for Naidu’s tour.

Two days after seizing the TDP chief’s campaign vehicle, the police silently towed it to an undisclosed location.

The former chief minister reacted furiously to this and demanded that his vehicle be returned to him.

He also said that his campaign vehicle had a proper licence.

As the police refused to bring back the vehicle, Naidu squatted on the road, along with TDP leaders and workers, saying that as the local MLA, he had every right to visit his constituents.

Related: Jagan calls Chandrababu Naidu a non-local in Kuppam

‘CM behind police anarchy’

TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu addresses a crowd in the Kuppam constituency in Andhra Pradesh on Friday, 6 January, 2023. (Supplied)

TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu addresses a crowd in the Kuppam constituency in Andhra Pradesh on Friday, 6 January, 2023. (Supplied)

Naidu said he suspected the hand of Jagan behind the actions of the local police. “The psycho chief minister is behind the anarchy of the police action here. Do you have any humanity? Are you not ashamed to create hurdles in my own constituency?” he asked.

He also asked the police whether he had the right to meet the voters in his home constituency. Naidu said that the people would revolt against the police if he kept moving in the constituency.

“You can only create problems physically. I am ready to sacrifice even my life for the sake of the people,” he stated.

Contending that thousands of policemen had been deployed in Kuppam, Naidu asked whether TDP leaders were terrorists. “I will no longer tolerate it if you act like this,” he said.

Noting that YSRCP leaders were allowed to organise meetings in public places, the TDP supremo asked: “Do the TDP leaders have a separate rule for this? I really pity the police who have turned almost like slaves.”

Making it clear that neither he nor the other TDP leaders were scared of false cases, Naidu said that his party would teach a fitting lesson to those who crossed the line.

YSRCP castigates Naidu

In a sharp reaction, YSRCP general secretary and Government Advisor (Public Affairs) Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy objected to Chandrababu Naidu’s open challenge to violate the GO, which, he said, was issued in the public interest.

Talking to reporters at the Party Central Office on Friday, he appealed to the people to judge if such a GO, issued in the backdrop of the loss of innocent lives in the recent stampedes, was necessary or not.

He said the GO was very much within the jurisdiction of the Police Act and all parties, including the YSRCP, had to abide by it.

Instead of openly tendering an apology to the people for what happened at Kandukuru and Guntur, where a total of 11 people died in stampedes, Naidu had been resorting to political drama and chaotic demonstrations showing scant respect for the law of the land, Ramakrishna Reddy said.

The GO explained the disadvantages of conducting rallies and meetings on roads and highways, he added.

What the GO says

N Chandrababu Naidu inquires after injuredparty workers after the stampede on Wednesday, 28 December, 2022. (Supplied)

N Chandrababu Naidu inquires after injuredparty workers after the stampede on Wednesday, 28 December, 2022. (Supplied)

The GO has asked all political parties to identify alternative places like public grounds and other open places for conducting rallies and public meetings in a hassle-free manner, and to prevent the recurrence of unfortunate incidents such as the recent stampedes.

Referring to the hue and cry being raised on the GO by “pro-TDP media” that the ruling YSRCP was scuttling the Opposition, Ramakrishna Reddy asked how, in that case, had Naidu been touring Kuppam for the last three days.

It is not the police but the people of Kuppam that are ignoring him, he said. And due to this fear, the TDP president has been conducting rallies and public meetings on narrow roads causing stampedes.

Naidu should clarify if he wants to remain a law-abiding citizen or wage a war, added Reddy.

With nothing to claim as his achievements, Naidu has been trying to mislead the people and present a confused, blurred, coloured, and biased picture with the support of his “friendly media”, the YSRCP leader said.

Minister defends GO

Andhra Pradesh Minister for Irrigation Ambati Rambabu defended the GO and said it was meant to safeguard the public and regulate gatherings, but was not aimed at obstructing the Opposition parties in any way.

He said that the government would not roll back the GO, which would be applicable to all political parties, and that the YSR Congress Party was not an exemption.

It was meant to streamline the conduct of public meetings and rallies of all political parties to avoid the recurrence of the stampedes that happened at Kandukuru and Guntur.

Drawing a parallel between the Odarpu Yatra of YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and Naidu’s rallies, he said, while the former’s programme was conducted in a systematic manner with discipline, the latter’s rallies were chaotic and unorganised, resulting in stampedes.

Police book TDP workers

Meanwhile, the Rallabudugur police registered a case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including attempt to murder, naming several TDP workers — including women — based on a complaint filed by an inspector of police.

In his complaint, Inspector G Ashok Kumar alleged that about 50 TDP activists formed an unlawful assembly on 4 January for the visit of Chandrababu Naidu.

When told that there was no permission for their roadshow, the TDP workers obstructed his duties and also beat up a constable with sticks, causing bleeding injuries, the inspector alleged.

“CI Tulasi Ram and I tried to prevent them but the accused, with an intent to kill, stabbed me with a flag stick. As I tried to thwart the attempt, they inflicted injury on my fingers. Further. They caused head injury to Tulasi Ram and constable Vinod Kumar as well,” Ashok Kumar alleged in the complaint.

Based on this, the police registered a case of attempted murder against nearly 50 TDP workers.