Kommineni Srinivasa Rao
The resounding success of Andhra Pradesh state-wide bandh is itself a reflection of the people’s pulse and their aspirations with reference to Special Category Status to the state. Except for the ruling TDP and BJP (which is in power at the centre) all the parties and people’s organizations have completely supported the bandh. So much so that Leader of Opposition and YSRCP President YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had called for a day’s break from his historic walkathon Praja Sankalpa Yatra.
The April 16 bandh call was given by Andhra Pradesh Pratyeka Hoda Saadhana Samiti (SCS Committee) and was supported by all the opposition parties. To disrupt the protest, TDP came up with a new argument saying that bandhs were anti-development and those who participate in anti-development activity should be arrested.
It is an awkward situation for Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu who has changed his stance numerous times and taken U turns with respect to SCS. If he turned against the bandh it would have meant that he is against SCS to AP and had he supported the bandh he would have to face criticism as to how any government could call for a bandh. And the criticism could come from none other than the BJP itself. Moreover, it is very silly of Chandrababu to ask people to protest in Delhi and not in AP. Andhra Pradesh Pratyeka Hoda Saadhana Samiti (SCS Committee) convenor asked the AP CM to recall the many occasions on which TDP had observed bandh while not in power.
Chandrababu has always been contradicting himself. He first criticises PM’s fast and now he says he will sit on fast for a day. Earlier when Rosaiah was the CM, he had participated in a protest, which was debated by analysts and media, back then. Similarly, while Kiran Kumar Reddy was the CM, he protested against the Congress party high-command, and this too became a topic of discussion.Tamil Nadu CM Palanisami also took up a hunger strike very recently. We also had Madhya Pradesh CM sitting on a protest. Many CMs and leaders have taken up protests for different reasons. Chandrababu's duplicity is transparent. He criticises the PM's fast and calls anti-development. Chandrababu announces at the same time, that he will fast for a day, take up cycle rallies and participate in a protest organized by TDP. While the AP CM asked opposition to observe protests in Delhi, why was he not taking up a fasting programme in Delhi? He could have sat in protest near PM Modi’s house. Shouldn't he walk the talk considering it is necessary to match words with deeds?
During 2004 and 2014, when TDP was not in power they had taken up numerous protests and hunger strikes. When their party leader Paritala Ravi was murdered, state owned buses in combined AP were set afire by TDP cadre. It was reported then that the TDP top leadership had instructed the district cadre to set buses on fire.
Yet another example of his double standards relates to his preaching to the opposition to hold protests in Delhi. Why didn’t he support the indefinite hunger strike taken up by YSRCP MPs at AP Bhavan in Delhi? It is important that he understands the fact that Telangana agitation took place in Telangana and not in Delhi. On many occasions during the Telangana agitation, TDP leaders also participated actively. Protests are nothing but an expression of dissent against Central and state governments. Kerala High Court had delivered a verdict against observing bandhs. Have the political parties paid heed to this verdict?
The fact is that the Centre has not fulfilled its promise of granting SCS to AP. On the other hand, Chandrababu had questioned the SCS and its uses and has now been forced to take up cycle rallies for the sake of SCS to AP. And that too these protests are being held only in Amaravati.
Will the TDP take a concrete decision that it will never observe bandhs? Without clarity on this issue, whatever TDP does would always be termed as an opportunistic move. Hence it is time Chandrababu stops preaching and matches his words with deeds.