Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief and Andhra Pradesh Opposition Leader N Chandrababu Naidu today began a 12-hour hunger fast at his residence in Undavalli, Amaravati after he was kept under house arrest, to prevent him from participating in ‘Chalo Atmakur’, a protest rally against the attacks on TDP workers by the ruling party YSR Congress cadre since it came to power in May 2019.
According to several local reports, thousands of TDP supporters are detained across the state. While TDP leaders are claiming that they will expose the “authoritarian” regime under CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, YSRCP leaders are accusing the opposition of creating conspiracies to defame the government. Political analysts are arguing that it is the common people whose lives are getting destroyed in the brewing political war between the two parties.
“This is the darkest day in democracy. Never seen a fascist regime. Thousands of house arrests are abusive. We will fight for justice for the victims,” said Chandrababu Naidu in a tweet.
Tensions prevailed in Undavalli on Wednesday, as TDP leaders and supporters tried to enter Naidu’s residence, but were forcefully prevented by the police officials.
State police on Tuesday evening have imposed Section 144 (prohibition on assembly of more than four persons in an area) of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and Section 30 (regulation of public assemblies and processions) of the Police Act in the Palnadu region where Atmakur village is located. Citing this as a reason, the state police have kept TDP leaders under house arrest.
TDP leaders are arguing that more than 500 supporters of the party are attacked by the YSR Congress and at least eight TDP party members have been killed since May 2019.
Meanwhile, YSR Congress party on Tuesday has also announced that it will hold a counter rally with the same name ‘Chalo Atmakur’ at the same place and same time, claiming to pay tribute to the YSR Congress cadre who lost their lives during the previous government under TDP.
What Happened in Atmakur?
Atmakur is a small village in Macherla constituency in Guntur district. As per local media sources, at the centre of the politics in Atmakur was a conflict started five years ago between two groups belonging to a land-owning community. Reportedly, the groups also have family relationships but one group supports TDP and the other, YSR Congress. The group that supports YSR Congress had left the village five years ago and returned to their houses and their property after YSR Congress came to power recently. Following this, clashes erupted between the two groups and the group supporting TDP fled the village allegedly in fear of life.
Claiming to be providing assistance to the TDP group, Naidu’s party arranged a residential camp in Atmakur for their rehabilitation. It has claimed that the Chalo Atmakur rally was to ensure that the “excluded” group goes back to their original residence and the normalcy is resrored.
The police, on the other hand, has requested those families in the TDP camp to return to their houses while promising protection to them. As a result, many of them have returned to their homes. However, TDP is insisting going ahead with the rally. With YSR Congress’s announcement regarding a counter rally, political crisis has intensified there.
As per local reports, Atmakur villagers are scared of the political war between the two parties; they feel that a family dispute is being turned into a political issue.
“Palnadu region has been politically sensitive because of its social composition for decades now. In addition to this, as it was evident that political tussle between two parties have spread into villages in the last three months, the state government and the police should have taken preventive measures, but failed,” said Telakapalli Ravi, political analyst and senior journalist. Ravi also questioned why the CM didn't even make a statement calling for peace.
As political parties are encouraging politicians with criminal background, clashes between cadres are becoming more frequent resulting in violence, says political commentator Vikram Poola. Due to such incidents, it is the common people who gets most affected, Poola said in a television debate on the issue.