The sudden arrest of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) national president and former Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu from his camping site at Nandyal, by officials of the Andhra Pradesh CID, appears to have set the stage for a showdown between the TDP and ruling party YSR Congress Party, for the General and Assembly elections in 2024.
While some political pundits term it as a knee-jerk reaction from the ruling party, others say that it was a planned strategy of the YSRCP and Mr. Naidu has seen it coming his way.
Mr. Naidu has been setting the tone for his arrest, by publicly speaking at all public meetings that he might be arrested any day, and that the State government was conspiring with the police for doing it, and even had gone to the extent of saying that his life and his son’s life (Nara Lokesh), were under threat. He had gone to the extent of conveying the same to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, a couple of times, when he met him in the recent times.
A number of political analysts say that the arrest of the leader of the main Opposition party unceremoniously, was a hasty reaction from the ruling party and it might be counter-productive, as Mr. Naidu would certainly use it as a platform for gaining sympathy votes.
It is felt that Mr. Naidu was gaining traction, as his recent bus tour and his campaign ‘Babu Surety - Bhavishyathu Ki Guarantee’ programme was largely being termed as a success, including in Chief Minister’s stronghold pockets in the Rayalaseema region, and so was Nara Lokesh’s ‘Yuva Galam’, a 4,000-km long Statewide padayatra.
The TDP winning four MLC seats in the recent elections and winning in about 10 seats of the 32 in the local body elections are said to be indicators of Mr. Naidu’s upward trend. More so, the talks of him getting closer to the BJP top bosses and undeclared alliance with Jana Sena Party could be the reason for the ruling party to arrest the course.
Though the TDP, the JSP and the BJP leaders have largely condemned it and called it vindictive politics and ‘political vendetta’, YSRCP leaders have vehemently denied it. Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy, Adviser (Public Affairs), of YSRCP, had clearly said that the arrest was part of the ‘law taking its own course’ and the State or the party had nothing to do with it.
IT Minister Gudivada Amarnath said that ‘law is equal for all and Naidu has allegedly committed financial frauds and he has to pay for it”.
“Chandrababu Naidu saw it coming”
There is no ambiguity that Mr. Naidu had seen it coming. Ever since, the YSRCP had come to power, the alleged misdoings of the TDP, which Mr. Naidu in the lead, was under the scanner.
In 2021, the former Chief Minister was served notices by the Andhra Pradesh CID to appear before it in connection with the investigation into alleged insider trading in the Amaravati land case.
In the recent Punganur rioting case in Annamayya district, Mr. Naidu was named as accused number one and cases were filed against him by the police on charges of attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy.
The Income Tax Department had recently reportedly issued notices to the TDP chief for his alleged involvement in the ₹118 crore Amaravati construction scam and there is all probability that A.P. CID might take up further investigation.
But the nail was finally hit on Saturday with his alleged involvement in the Andhra Pradesh Skill Development Corporation (SDC) scam of about ₹371 crore.
The investigations by the A.P. CID implicate Mr. Naidu, stating that he was the mastermind of the APSDC scam and allegedly siphoned off the funds through shell companies.
Though Mr. Naidu and the TDP leaders have vehemently denied the allegations, the ball is now in his (Mr. Naidu) court to prove his innocence.