Andhra Pradesh

Praja Vedika demolition escalates tension between Jagan and Naidu

Hot topic: A view of the Praja Vedika that was demolished.

Hot topic: A view of the Praja Vedika that was demolished.  

The timing and the speed with which the building was razed to the ground raises several questions

It seems like a classic case of twist in the tale possible only in the Andhra brand of politics. When the former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu shot off a letter requesting his sprightly successor Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy to spare Praja Vedika, a government hall, for his use in his capacity as Leader of the Opposition, he would not have bargained for seeing earthmovers trundling in so early and mowing it down overnight.

Mr. Naidu must surely be ruing writing a mistimed missive that not only hastened the bulldozing but also triggered a government notice, warning of a similar treatment for his rented residence nearby if its owner Lingamaneni Ramesh did not respond in seven days.

The notice listed several violations, such as location of the structure within a 100-metre range of Krishna river. Seeing the notice pasted on the building, Mr. Naidu would also regret, like many of his party colleagues, why he did not go the whole hog against his rivals during his tenure! Apparently, much like his political strategy that bombed during the elections, he misjudged Mr. Reddy’s assertion made soon after he took over as Chief Minister that he would not be vindictive towards his political rivals.

Different opinions

Depending on which side one is, the bulldozing of Praja Vedika is being hailed or condemned. Environmentalists, from Waterman of India Rajendra Singh down to local activist Anumolu Gandhi, are quite pleased. Dr. Singh was surprised to see the way the Krishna river bank and the bed were being encroached upon by the high and mighty to put up their expansive guest houses, a nature cure hospital and ashrams. That the government would act tough was revealed by Mr. Reddy himself when he thundered at a District Collectors’ conference — ironically held at the same Praja Vedika four days ago — that all such unauthorised constructions would be pulled down, starting with Vedika. Indeed, he wanted to send a strong message, and any well-meaning citizen would hail it as a daring step that normally requires loads of political will.

But what made it a “political demolition” was the timing and choice of the first and second building. When there are about 50-odd “unauthorised” constructions existing on the Krishna river-bank and bed for so many years, why begin with Praja Vedika, built about two years ago? Does it deserve such priority? Should public money of ₹8.9 crore spent on the hall be frittered away when there was the choice of using it for a few more years? Since it was all made of pre-fab material, why was no attempt made to shift it to another site? Very many questions, but when politics takes over logic, it is perhaps naïve to expect plausible answers. The opposition TDP claims Mr. Naidu’s residence had all permissions, obtained during Mr. Reddy’s father YSR’s tenure as Chief Minister in 2007. It is not the question of whether these buildings are legal or unauthorised, Mr. Reddy has decided to indulge in “revenge politics,” asserts senior leader Yanamala Ramakrishnudu. For political analysts, the rivalry between the YSRCP and the TDP set off by the demolition looks like a replication of the AIADMK and the DMK’s never-ending politics of bitterness.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 6:20:31 AM |

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