'Political Vendetta': AP Govt's Moves Against Chandrababu Naidu Create a Storm

The row over the Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy government's attempts to force Naidu out of his residence has continued.

New Delhi: The YSR Congress government in Andhra Pradesh has found itself in a political storm after some its moves were seen as targetting former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu. On Saturday, media reports said that drones cameras were used around Naidu’s residence, while he was also asked to vacate his house due to the flood situation.

The two developments have added to the row over Naidu’s residence. Soon after the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) was voted out of power in May and Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy took over as the chief minister, Naidu received a notice saying the building is “illegal” as it violates environmental and river protection laws.

On Saturday, NDTV reported that the TDP held a protest at Naidu’s residence after two people were apparently caught using drone cameras.

Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh said in a tweet that the cameras violated his father’s ‘Z plus’ category security. According to reports, aerial photographs of the house – which Naidu has rented from an industrialist since 2016 – on the banks of Krishna river at Undavalli were circulated on social media.

While the state government said the drone cameras were monitoring the flood situation in the area, the TDP has accused the YSR Congress of surveillance. According to NDTV, Naidu spoke to director general of police (DGP) Gautam Sawang, telling him that the usage of drones breached his security.

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The water resources department has denied the claims of surveillance. Andhra Pradesh irrigation minister Anil Kumar was quoted by NDTV as saying the government “had every right to aerially monitor areas that were flooded”. He said the government is monitoring every district that is vulnerable. “It so happens that Naidu’s residence is located in the flood zone,” Kumar said.

The TDP called this “propaganda”, with Nara Lokesh saying that the flood waters have “only reached the outhouse and the residence is much far away”.

Naidu receives order to vacate residency

Meanwhile, citing the flood threat, the AP government on Saturday served a notice to Naidu, asking him to vacate his residence. According to India Today, the village revenue officer of Tadepalli village said the house should be evacuated immediately. The TDP has claimed that the notice is a move to force Naidu out of his house.

Soon after the YSR Congress came to power, Naidu was asked to vacate the house as it violated building norms. According to officials, the house was constructed at a height of 19 metres – instead of the required maximum flood level of 22.6 metres – and would be prone to flooding. The notice also said the building violates provisions of the River Conservation Act, apart from environmental and green tribunal laws.

A government building adjacent to Naidu’s residence, called Praja Vedika (people’s forum), was demolished by the government because it violated the same laws. During his term as chief minister, Naidu used the building to hold meetings with government officials and with citizens.

Praja Vedika being demolished. Photo: Social media

AP high court delivers verdict on Naidu’s security

Another row had erupted after the AP government late in June apparently “slashed” Naidu’s security. Naidu moved the Andhra Pradesh high court, seeking a security cover of 147 personnel, which was afforded to him while he was the chief minister (2014-2019) and also the leader of opposition between 2004-2014. The government reduced this to a 97-member team, under the Z plus category.

On August 14, the high court issued a verdict, asking the state government to continue providing him a 97-member security team. According to the New Indian Express, the court agreed with the government’s assertion that the 97 personnel were sufficient.

Naidu had cited threat from Maoists and red sander smugglers as a reason for seeking a 147-member security team.

Jagan ‘taking revenge’ on Naidu: BJP MP

While TDP leaders have described the series of moves taken against Naidu by the YSR Congress government as a “political vendetta“, a BJP Rajya Sabha MP also joined the chorus. Sujana Chowdary, who defected from the TDP to the BJP recently, on Sunday said Jagan is “using” his power to “take revenge” on Naidu.

According to reports, Chowdary said, “He (Jagan) should abandon his personal enmity (with the TDP chief) and focus on governing the state.”

While Jagan and Naidu have had several disagreements over the functioning of the state government, both parties have supported many of the decisions take by the Narendra Modi government’s in parliament. MPs of the two parties were absent during the Rajya Sabha’s vote on the controversial Triple Talaq Bill, handing the advantage to the Centre, which lacks majority in the house. The two parties also supported the decision to read down Article 370 and reorganise Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.