Andhra Pradesh

Under house arrest, Naidu has forgotten he detained Jagan at Vizag airport

Jagan’s Vizag in 2017 is Chandrababu’s Amaravati in 2019. In the notorious world of tit-for-tat politics in Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu was detained and not allowed to step out of his home in Undavalli on Wednesday in order to foil his plan to protest in Atmakur. The TDP chief has accused the ruling YSR Congress of killing eight of its cadre since May when it came to power and wanted to stand in solidarity with the 500-odd victims who were allegedly injured in different attacks. 

Naidu chose to wait at the gate in his car surrounded by party leaders even as the police tied up the front gate to his home with ropes. Outside the pathway to his home too was blocked with barricades. The optics of putting the fetters on Naidu was complete.

Also read : The reason Naidu was arrested

Not just Naidu, his son Nara Lokesh and just about every senior TDP leader was detained at their home or hotel room and prevented from moving out. Some like Vijayawada MP Kesineni Nani who managed to get to Prakasam Barrage were picked up from the vantage point. 

But TDP leaders accusing Jaganmohan Reddy of a fascist approach would however, do well to press the rewind button to January 26, 2017 when Jagan landed along with two YSRCP MPs at Vizag airport. Jagan who was then Leader of Opposition, wanted to head to Ramakrishna Beach in the city to lead a silent candlelight rally seeking special category status to Andhra Pradesh. 

With Jagan not allowed to get into the city, he sat on an impromptu dharna on the runway and had a verbal altercation with the cops at the airport. Just like the police plea now that Section 144 has been imposed and rival rallies by TDP and YSRCP would lead to a law and order issue, in 2017 the cops cited Republic Day celebrations and the CII summit that was to start the next day.

Or how Naidu’s government took the political call to put Kapu community leader Mudragada Padmanabham in July 2017 under house arrest. Today Naidu speaks of his house arrest and detentions as a black day for democracy. Would he say the same about his decisions as CM?

While the Andhra Pradesh police sees Naidu as a potential threat to peace and law and order situation in Palnadu, the larger question is whether representing people’s causes should be muzzled like this. I believe that detaining Jagan in 2017 at Vizag airport was wrong. By the same yardstick, putting fetters on Naidu now is wrong as well especially when the TDP is accusing the police of looking the other way while violence is being allegedly committed.

Detention is an assault on any Indian’s right to move freely, guaranteed to every citizen under the Constitution of India. Muzzling the opposition, as Jagan should know better, gets the ruling party nowhere. The act of a lady cop barging into the hotel room of former Andhra minister Bhuma Akhila Priya is despicable. It shows the arrogance of power and a belief that authority is eternal. 

Naidu got carried away by the arrogance of power in 2017, Jagan is making the same mistake now.

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