Hyderabad, Oct 1 : The action of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leaders in condemning the arrest of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N.Chandrababu Naidu despite the party officially maintaining a neutral stand shows that they fear losing votes of TDP sympathizers and ‘settlers’ in the upcoming Telangana Assembly election.
Finance Minister T.Harish Rao calling Naidu’s arrest unfortunate and a BRS MLA joining in the public protest in Hyderabad indicate that the ruling party does not want to take any risks, especially after coming under flak from various for not allowing permissions for protests in the information technology hub.
Addressing a public meeting in Siddipet district on Saturday, Harish Rao had termed Naidu’s arrest ‘unfortunate’.”It is unfortunate that he (Naidu) was arrested at this age,” he said.
He said that Naidu had praised Telangana’s progress after it was formed.
The minister said that the TDP chief referred to how land prices in Telangana have increased manifold, benefiting farmers.
Earlier, people in present-day Andhra Pradesh could buy 10 acres in Telangana while selling one acre in Andhra.The situation has now changed as now, people can buy 100 acres in Andhra if they sell one acre in Telangana, he said, referring to the comments made by Naidu during his meetings in Andhra Pradesh.
He said that Naidu used to support the IT sector but he too, had accepted that Chief Minister K.Chandrasekhar Rao had done tremendous work in the agriculture sector.
Harish Rao’s statement came barely four days after BRS working president K.T.Rama Rao said that Naidu is a political issue between two parties in Andhra Pradesh and defended the denial of permission for rallies in Hyderabad on the ground that this may lead to law and order problems in the Telangana capital.
“Some leaders may have spoken individually but we are staying neutral,” he had said whileapparently referring to statements made by some BRS leaders criticizing Naidu’s arrest by Andhra Pradesh CID in an alleged skill development scam.
KTR said Telangana politics had nothing to do with Andhra Pradesh politics.”Mr Chandrababu Naidu was arrested in Andhra Pradesh.If you want to do rallies and dharnas, do it there.Why in Hyderabad,” he asked.
Some supporters of Naidu including IT employees had staged a protest in Hyderabad’s IT corridor condemning his arrest.Subsequently, police denied permission for any protest.
KTR said if one party is allowed to hold rallies, the other party may organise counter-rallies.
However, KTR’s statement came under flak from various quarters including a section of techies who see Naidu as the main architect of Hyderabad’s IT growth when he was the chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh between 1995 and 2004.
Protests by ‘settlers’ as people from Andhra Pradesh settled in Hyderabad and some other parts of Telangana are known, apparently forced BRS leaders to take note of the sympathy for Naidu among ‘settlers’ especially the Kamma community to which Naidu belongs.
It was in this context that BRS MLA from LB Nagar constituency in Greater Hyderabad joined a protest in support of Naidu in his constituency.
Sudheer Reddy participated in the protest in Vanasthalipuram which is home to a sizable number of people from Andhra Pradesh.
The demonstrators displayed placards expressing their strong disapproval of Naidu’s arrest and raised slogans against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Earlier, Assembly Speaker Pocharam Srinivas Reddy said that Naidu was arrested in an “inappropriate manner” and it was not good for democracy.He called the arrest “politically motivated”.
Srinivas Reddy was in TDP and had worked as a minister in Naidu’s cabinet undivided Andhra Pradesh.He comes from Nizamabad district, which is also home to a good number of settlers.
Going a step forward, former minister and BRS leader Mohkupally Narasimhulu sat on a protest at NTR Ghat in Hyderabad against Naidu’s arrest.
He also demanded that KCR react to Naidu’s arrest.
Narsimhulu had worked as a minister in N.T.Rama Rao’s cabinet.
He said that he personally does not believe Naidu, who spent 7 to 8 lakh crore as the chief minister in five years in Andhra Pradesh, took Rs 300 crore as a bribe.
Some constituencies in Greater Hyderabad and districts like Khammam and Nizamabad have a good chunk of voters from Andhra Pradesh.
In 2018, they had backed TRS (now BRS) as the party had ensured the protection of their interests despite apprehensions at the time of bifurcation.
Political analysts say notwithstanding the official stand taken by BRS, the party leaders on the ground are keen to ensure that the voters from Andhra Pradesh don’t distance themselves from the party.
A section of BRS leaders feel that the settlers who can influence the outcome in some constituencies may move closer to the Congress party, which is going aggressively to capture power in Telangana.
Telangana Congress chief A.Revanth Reddy is using the issue of denial of permission for protests in Hyderabad to win the support of settlers.
Revanth Reddy, who was considered a close confidant of Naidu during his TDP days, criticised KTR for refusing permission for protests in Hyderabad against Naidu’s arrest.Revanth emphasised that it is the fundamental right of citizens to protest anywhere in the country.
Stating that Andhra Pradesh-origin people in Hyderabad have voting rights and pay taxes to the government, he said they have every right to protest on issues that concern them.
He pointed out that during the Telangana statehood agitation, NRIs from Telangana held rallies in support of Telangana near the White House in the US, and they were not denied permission based on the issue’s connection to India.
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