Washing dirty linen: TDP-YSRCP style

Hyderabad: The ruling party and the opposition in Andhra Pradesh have reached the peak in their madness in which there is a method. The latest bout is the controversy over the lewd pictures of Nara Lokesh taken during his stay as a student in the US. They were obviously picked up from the Twitter or Facebook and released to media by the YSRCP. The pictures show the junior Nara, and the grandson of NT Rama Rao, swimming and enjoying his time with a number of girls. There was no official rejoinder from the ruling party.

The photos have been making rounds for months. Journalists who happened to see had not taken them seriously.  But the latest provocation that made the YSRCP to release the photos and make noise was the statement made by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu. He said that the reports that about Rs 10,000 crore were disclosed by one person in Hyderabad as part of the voluntary disclosure scheme announced by the Income Tax authorities and he also hinted that the person is none other than the Opposition leader YS Jaganmohan Reddy.

Naidu has been taunting the young son of former chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy (YSR) with allegations that the former has accumulated illegal money to the extent of Rs 1 lakh crore when his father was chief minister.

The TDP leaders who made it a habit of making this allegation almost every day and everywhere never took the trouble of producing a shred of evidence. The newspapers and the TV channels which give a lot of publicity to the insinuations also did not bother about evidence. TDP MLAs Butchaiah Chowdary, Dhulipala Narendranath Chowdary and Achhan Naidu are in the regular habit of repeating this allegation on the floor of the Assembly. The only thing they cite is the chargesheets filed by the CBI and the time Jaganmohan Reddy had spent in jail.

Jagan and his party leaders have been pointing out that the cases filed by the CBI were on account of his defiance of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Congress leader Sankar Rao and  TDP leader late Yerran Naidu together filed a case in AP High Court and the Centre was cooperating with the petitioners.

As long as he was YSR’s son and obedient to Sonia Gandhi, Jaganmohan Reddy was considered a decent guy. Once he rebelled against the UPA supremo, he became corrupt. The allegation made by the YSRCP is that the Congress and the TDP joined hands to implicate Jagan in corruption cases.

The Opposition leader has been claiming that the total amount involved in the charge sheets is Rs 12,000 crore out of which Rs 11,000 crore have already been paid back. The Enforcement Directorate which functions under the Finance Ministry was super-active attaching properties belonging to the business concerns of Jaganmohan Reddy and his partners left, right and centre. Former finance minister P Chidambaram and the present Finance Minister Arun Jaitley have been close friends of  Chandrababu Naidu who has been in touch with them on regular basis. This is entirely a politically motivated litigation and has nothing to do with quid-pro-quo as alleged by the TDP and the Congress, argue YSRCP leaders. The Congress stopped making these allegations after it lost power both at the Centre and in the State.  That the Congress party in AP is dying to work with the YSRCP is a different thing, they quip.  But the cases have become handy for the TDP to needle the opposition by making unfounded charges in the presence of a Speaker who does not object when same allegations are repeated everyday during every session. So, there is enough reason for the YSRCP and its president to be angry with the TDP. Further, a number of YSRCP MLAs were lured into the ruling party. YSRCP alleged that its MLAs were bought over. The MLAs who defected said they crossed over to the ruling party for two reasons: One, the YSRCP leader was not giving them respect; two, they are defecting for the sake of development of their constituencies.

To counter the corruption charges, Jagan has been repeating the ‘note for vote’ case in which Naidu’s voice was recorded. Telangana State Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has gained upper hand over Naidu with this case.  Revant Reddy, a TDP MLA, was caught on spy camera handing over bundles or currency to a nominated MLA in Hyderabad for voting for the TDP candidate in MLC elections. Every decision of Naidu, from  shifting post-haste to Amaravati from Hyderabad to not forcing the Union government to concede the demand for special status, has been  linked to this case in which he  could be implicated. The trading of charges has been going on for months balancing out each other. But the latest salvo fired by Naidu was the proverbial last straw which came soon after an audacious letter by Lokesh addressing Jagan questioning the latter’s character and integrity.

The political analysts are at a loss to understand whether the YSRCP is helping, unwittingly, in projecting Nara Lokesh’s image as an important leader in AP politics or Naidu, in his misplaced enthusiasm, provoked the opposition to wash the dirty linen in public and show his son in poor light by releasing the photos. Both the parties have their social media activists, caste support groups and media houses to carry their message far and wide. The war of attrition would go on. But the debate on development, the controversies surrounding the upcoming capital city of Amaravati and implementation of election promises would be badly affected. For a week now, these issues are seldom debated in political circles.  That, perhaps, suits TDP and Naidu.

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