Today's Paper

Decks cleared for A.P. snap poll

The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, addressing the `mini-mahanadu' of the Telugu Desam Party in Hyderabad on Thursday. - Photo: P.V. Sivakumar  

HYDERABAD Nov. 13. The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, today received the expected endorsement from his Telugu Desam Party to dissolve the Assembly prematurely and seek mandate on the twin issues of naxalite violence vs. development and the Opposition's alleged covert support to extremism.

A general body meeting of the TDP, convened at short notice, approved a resolution moved by the State Home Minister and politburo member, T. Devender Goud, that the party should go to the people for their sanction to stamp out effectively extremism which was thwarting progress and development. The 7,500 delegates supported the resolution after it was seconded by the Telugu Desam Parliamentary Party leader, K. Yerran Naidu, and other senior leaders.

Armed with the full support of his party workers, Mr. Naidu will convene a meeting of his Council of Ministers in a day or two to recommend to the Governor, Surjit Singh Barnala, dissolution of the Assembly and holding of new elections. He hinted that elections would be held in February 2004 as he said that only the TDP had the courage to cut short the Assembly's tenure and approach the people for votes nine months ahead of schedule.

On a day of swift political developments which ended a month-long speculation, Mr. Naidu consulted the party's politburo at a meeting earlier when he received the green signal to go ahead with "the historic decision" to call for early elections. The 90-minute meeting gave finishing touches to the draft resolution placed before the delegates this evening.

The two-page resolution said naxalites were resorting to killings and destruction of public property as they were unable to stomach the rapid development of the State under Mr. Naidu's leadership and that the Opposition parties were remaining a silent spectator. It made no substantive reference to other political issues the TDP had been harping on in the past — the Congress' "opportunistic" demand for free power supply to farmers or the campaign for a separate State by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

Mr. Naidu and others strongly criticised the Congress and other political parties for failing to utter a word of condemnation when TDP leaders were eliminated by naxalites. Instead, they were suggesting the resumption of negotiations with the extremists, an experiment that had failed earlier following the People's War's refusal to give up arms. Although the decision has been triggered by the near-fatal attack by the PW on the Chief Minister on October 1, Mr. Naidu said he would not seek the people's support on the sympathy plank.

Ready for polls: Cong.

Our New Delhi Correspondent writes:

Reacting to reports that the TDP had asked the Chandrababu Naidu Government to go for early Assembly dissolution, the Congress chief spokesperson, S. Jaipal Reddy, said the party was "absolutely prepared for elections".