Chandrababu Naidu's crowded welcome in Andhra Pradesh sparks political row
After spending two months at his Jubilee Hills residence, Hyderabad, in neighboring Telangana, former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu returned to the state on Monday, only to spark a major controversy. The TDP boss was welcomed by a huge crowd, prompting concerns of social distancing. CM Jagan Reddy's party YSR Congress asked Naidu to quarantine himself and alleged that he broke lockdown rules.
Naidu was slated to fly to Andhra but changed plans due to government rules. Select domestic flights resumed on March 25, but Andhra restarted it a day later (today). He was accompanied by his son N Lokesh. They traveled on Hyderabad-Vijaywada National Highway to reach their residence on the outskirts of Vijaywada. Naidu was also supposed to visit the victims of Vizag gas leak.
At the Garikapadu border check, scores of TDP supporters welcomed Naidu, forgetting all rules of social distancing. Naidu, who used a face mask, unlocked the car's door to wave at his followers. TDP leader Bandaru Satyanarayana Murthy slammed YSR Congress for first allowing Naidu to meet Vizag gas leak victims and then canceling the Hyderabad-Vizag flight. Separately, YSR Congress demanded an explanation from Naidu.
YSRCP leader Gadikota Srikanth Reddy said the entire country was following guidelines till May 31, but Naidu flouted them. "Chandrababu Naidu took out a rally from Hyderabad where hundreds gathered, garlanded him without using masks. Being a senior politician how could he do so? He should apologize," he told ANI. Reddy is the chief whip of the Andhra Pradesh government.
"Coming from a red zone, he should go into quarantine. Chandrababu Naidu, however, is trying to politicize the situation. He was playing politics through the Zoom app while he was in Hyderabad and suddenly he came in a big convoy," Reddy said.
Naidu's entry into Andhra violated security norms as well. While he traveled in black Toyota Fortuner, other vehicles of his convoy were silver-grey Tata Safari SUVs. "The target then is easily identifiable (in such a case) and that is not to be done at all," an ex-CMO security officer said. Notably, he was given Z-plus security after a Maoist outfit attacked him in 2003.
Meanwhile, TDP's Murthy said Naidu's visit to Vizag gas leak victims has only been postponed, not canceled. Earlier this month, a gas leak at the LG Polymers plant killed 11 people and left several injured. The incident happened as workers were trying to restart the plant, which was shut during the coronavirus-necessitated lockdown. Thereafter, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) issued fresh guidelines.