Modi invokes NTR’s legacy, questions TDP’s love for Cong; Chandrababu retorts ‘son rise’ jibe with ‘estranged wife’ barb
The year-long bitter political fight between the BJP and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) over “injustice” to Andhra Pradesh reached a crescendo on Sunday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Andhra Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu turning it into personal attacks on each other.
Taking exception to Modi addressing him as “father of Lokesh” at a rally in Guntur on Sunday, Naidu launched a counter-offensive by asking, “You have estranged your wife. Do you have any respect in the family system.”
In a reflection of the nadir in the relations between the two sides, neither Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu nor any of his Cabinet colleagues were present at the Gannavaram airport to receive the Prime Minister. Only the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police were present to complete the formality.
In his first visit to the State since the TDP walked out of the NDA over Centre not giving Special Category Status to Andhra, Modi attacked the TDP Government in AP as “Baap Bete ki Sarkar” (rule of father and son) referring to Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh, who is a Minister.
“Naidu promised sun rise but gave son rise,” Modi quipped.
Referring to the TDP joining hands with the Congress, Modi said that Naidu had forgotten that NT Rama Rao had founded the TDP to make India free of the Congress. “Naidu changes his friends before every election and falls on their feet for political gains,” Modi said.
Also alluding to Naidu’s repeated statements that he was senior to Modi in politics, Modi ridiculed his opponent. “Yes he is senior to me in backstabbing his father-in-law NT Rama Rao and changing alliances,” Modi said.
Naidu on his part went ballistic answering Modi in equal measure and questioned the treatment Modi had meted out to his wife Jasoda Ben.
“You brought triple talaq (Bill) but you can’t answer questions on those subjects in your personal life,” said a bitter Naidu. “I am going to attack you because you attacked me personally”, Naidu said giving point-by-point rebuttal to the other attacks of Modi.
Modi’s visit to the State was marred by protests by several parties, including ruling TDP staging protest demonstrations, waiving black flags and releasing black balloons in the air across the State.
Workers of TDP, Congress and Left parties organised the demonstrations against Modi raising slogans of “Modi Go Back” in Vijaywada, Guntur, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati and other major centres.
Many of the protesters wore black shirts and waved black flags. Significantly the entire rout from Gannavaram airport near Vijaywada to Guntur was full of big anti-Modi billboards questioning the Centre’s failure in keeping the promises made to Andhra Pradesh.
Some of the billboards read, “With what face are you coming to Andhra Pradesh” and “Where is the special category status you promised to Andhra Pradesh”.
In his characteristic style Modi, addressing in Hindi played with the words to target Naidu and the TDP. On the slogan of ‘Modi go back’, Modi said, “yes I will go back to Delhi as Prime Minister for second term after the coming elections”. He also made fun of the black flags and the balloons as “Drishti” or an antidote against the evil eye.
Modi has been facing black flags and protest in different States during his visit in the recent weeks. After Tamil Nadu, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh earlier he faced similar protests in AP, for second time in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka where he addressed a series of meeting in the run-up to the coming elections.
Rejecting the TDP’s allegations that he did not keep promises made to Andhra Pradesh Modi said, “Our Government gave AP much more than what was mentioned in the special status category. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh also acknowledged the special package but took a U-turn later as they failed to use the funds appropriately,” Modi said.
On Naidu’s proposed day-long hunger strike in New Delhi on Monday, Modi said that the BJP was organising programmes spending its own money whereas Naidu was spending public money for the Monday’s protest in Delhi.
In his equally strong counter to Modi’s attack Naidu said, “What all Modi said was a lie. I don’t have to give any answers (on expenditure). State accountants have all the figures of (expenditure)”.
On Modi’s criticism of his son Nara Lokesh, Naidu said, “I am proud of my family, as Lokesh’s dad, Devansh’s grand father and Bhuvanesari’s husband”.
Stressing that his family was with him Naidu said, “I always promote family values where as Modi has no family and is unable to appreciate these things”.
Meanwhile, hundreds of TDP workers and supporters were travelling by train from different places in the State to New Delhi to take part in Monday’s hunger strike by Naidu against the Centre. 22 political parties including Congress have announced their support to Naidu’s programme.
BJP leadership has stepped up its attack on the Andhra Pradesh Government ever since Naidu emerged as a driving force behind a Congress led alliance against the BJP at the national level.