Andhra’s ex-CEO crosses the line

By T S Sudhir

“My MLAs are sick now because of your treatment here. There are no bathrooms, MLAs are suffering from diarrohea. For nine years I was chief minister. Behave properly. You are inhuman.”

This was an anguished Chandrababu Naidu letting off steam at the SP of Nanded district, on Monday night after he found to his shock and dismay that a vehicle used to transport undertrials had been arranged for him and the 60-odd other Telugu Desam leaders to shift them to Aurangabad jail.

That was not all. Wiping his moist eyes, Naidu then took on Maharashtra’s chief minister. Incidentally, Nanded is Ashok Chavan’s home district.

“Andhra Pradesh will teach him a lesson. You tell him. What are you thinking? Are we beggars? Convey my anguish, my anger. This is the anger of Andhra Pradesh. Even roadside beggars are treated better than us. I have seen politicians for the last 30 years.”

Not that more comfortable buses weren’t available. The volvo buses in which the TDP leaders had travelled from Hyderabad to Dharmabad on Friday were parked right outside the ITI campus in the town, which had served as prison for the VIPs since Friday evening.

“No, we cannot transport them in this as they are part of the seized records,” said a police officer. Law is blind, they say. You realise sometimes it is not streetsmart and practical as well.

Soon visuals of marks on the bodies of MPs and MLAs leaked out through MMS, which suggested the honourable men had been assaulted by Maharashtra police. Hyderabad went into a tizzy.

“This is an insult to Telugu atmagauravam,” thundered Mohan Babu, melodramatic actor and at one time, a Rajya Sabha MP courtesy NTR.

Back in Hyderabad on Tuesday night, Naidu tore into Rosaiah for not coming to his rescue.

“When we were there for five days, tortured by the police who were kicking us with their shoes, what was this CM doing? Dear chief minister, posts are not important. You have got this post by the people’s mandate. When that Telugu community is being dishonoured, don’t you have any shame or courage to protect state’s interest?”

TDP leaders’ securitymen claimed they were assaulted first by a group consisting of two DSPs and four constables. According to their version, on instructions from higher-ups, this group would pick up on a MLA or a MP, take him into an adjoining room, thrash him and put him back. Sounds very filmy but the TDP leaders had their bruises, bandaged feet and elbows to display as evidence.

Chief minister K Rosaiah believes there was no need for Naidu to up the ante by indulging in this kind of drama.

“He has in fact done a huge disservice to Telugus settled in Maharashtra. Half of Sholapur is Telugus,” he pointed out. “The issue is for Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra governments to sort out but the animosity to Naidu has made people on both sides hostile to each other.”

Expectedly, Naidu’s action met with an equal and opposite reaction from the more rabid elements in Maharashtra. Both the Shiv Sena and Raj Thackeray’s MNS jumped into the fray in Dharmabad and Aurangabad.

“How dare you come to shoot at Babhli from Andhra,” thundered a Shiv Sena goon when we were taking shots of farm labour on a field in the backdrop of the Babhli barrage. As they let loose the choicest abuses in Marathi and threatened to smash our camera, my cameraperson bluffed that he was actually shooting for an agricultural documentary. Knowing it wouldn’t be long before someone in the village revealed we had already shot at the barrage, we made a hasty exit.

Back in Dharmabad town, a group of locals asked every pressperson, “Tum Andhra waale ho?” “Tum?” “Aur tum?”

One of the them noticed our OB van and piped up. “NDTV ka gaadi AP registration number hai.” Over the next half hour, journalists tried to make them understand that Hyderabad was only a geographical point from where we operated, it did not mean we peddled only the Andhra point of view.

For security reasons, all Telugu TV channels were kept out of Maharashtra to avoid providing target practise for MNS and Shiv Sena elements.

If nothing else, politicians cutting across party and region lines have mastered the craft of dividing people, their hearts and minds on geographical lines. In Andhra Pradesh, vehicles with MH registration were vandalised, ditto those with AP registration in Maharashtra.

The drama continued on the tarmac at Aurangabad airport, with Naidu refusing to board the special IC 001 arranged for the TDP group. “I will not leave Maharashtra till I am shown Babhli.” No pleas or threats worked and Naidu soon found himself in the airspace between Aurangabad and Hyderabad.

But not for anything is Naidu a crafty politician. On that 45-minute flight, he would have realised that behind the dark clouds, is a silver lining.

Naidu’s ambiguous stand on statehood to Telangana was a political embarrassment for his party but by patenting the Babhli campaign, Naidu has earned psychological comfort. TDP could not open its mouth in Telangana, because statehood votaries would demand to know its stand on Telangana. Now it can claim to have fought against `British-type ill-treatment’ for the people of the region.

Two, the last few months have seen a chorus for Jagan as the CM-in-waiting, almost as if there is no other claimant to the post. Naidu wants to tell the world he is in the race as well. What will help Naidu is that despite his two eyes theory on Telangana, the TDP still remains a vibrant political force in the region.

Three, Naidu’s aim is not to excel in these byelections. It will hardly make a difference to his fortunes even if his tally goes up by a couple of seats. His real target would be the local bodies elections and Babhli has succeeded in uniting different regional factions in the TDP after Telangana exposed the fissures. To that extent, Babhli waters have helped rejuvenate the party.

And last, if anything happens in Andhra Pradesh’s favour over Babhli or any of the other so-called `illegal projects’ constructed by Maharashtra over the Godavari, Naidu will get all the credit.

One only wishes that the former CM who styled himself as the CEO of AP Inc for nine years, didn’t behave like a troublesome trade union leader, trying to break the police cordon on the Andhra-Maharashtra border. That was a typical case of a sacked CEO crossing the line.


About t s sudhir & uma sudhir

Uma Sudhir and T S Sudhir are senior journalists, based in Hyderabad. Both work for NDTV. Uma is a Tamilian, who was educated in
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2 Responses to Andhra’s ex-CEO crosses the line

  1. Ajaya Kumar says:

    Dear Sir,
    I agree with you totally when you say that Mr Babu should not have crossed the line by trying to break the police cordon at the border. Our politicians do not behave responsibly and do not look beyond the narrow spectrum of immediate political gains. As a Chief Minister of the state for 9 years, he should have realized the consequences of his actions and behaved more responsibly. After all, the Govt of Maharashtra is well within its right to protect law and order in the state.. And there was definitely enough reason to believe that if the delegation of Mr Chandra Babu was allowed to proceed to the Babli site, it might lead to worsening of the law and order situation there. Subsequent events as made out in your report above have borne out this fact what with the chauvinist Maharashtra political elements jumping into the fray to gain political mileage. But definitely the way the elected representatives were treated by the Maharashtra police and the administration is reprehensible and do not in any way lend credence to our claim of being on our way to a civilized democratic nation. One cannot but mention the role of the local media, both print and tv and the way they went about town claiming that the treatment meted out to Mr Chandra Babu Naidu is nothing but an assault on the “self-respect” of the Telugu people. I wish they were more analytical of the issue and treated the whole thing in a non partisan way. The intentions of the Telugu Desam party became very clear when on return to Hyderabad they in one voice started attacking Mr Rosaiah saying that he failed to protect them and consequently “Telugu Atmagauravam”.. One film star politician from Tirupati incredulously reminded the Govt that we too have arms and ammunition hinting that we should use those against Maharashtra police! Maybe the days are not far off when states start fighting wars with each other over issues especially if politicians of above mentioned ilk do succeed in coming to power. The days of the Indian Union will definitely be numbered then ! To prevent that happening, the Union Govt must act in a non-partisan manner when such issues concerning cross border arise and try to solve them at the earliest in a transparent and democratic manner within the framework of the Constitution. Any attempt to play partisan politics in this regard will only lead to weakening of the Federal structure of our Nation leading to disastrous long term consequences.

  2. bhavana says:

    It is not Babu who crossed the border by himself but the police who promised the group to show Babli and cheated them by arresting… If they were asked to go back,, may be chaos would occur for a while, but end of the day story would end..

    As far as politics in INDIA is concerned every activity that the political parties take up goes around for getting their stand in the sate and the country.. Action and counter actions are very common at every point of time.. But as far as Babhli issue is concerned nevertheless a political reason behind taking up the issue, it also has huge benefits on fighting for the cause.. Letting Mr.Babu see the project does not affect any of the governments in any way.. The Maharastra Govt is trying to complete the work for its selfishness.. Of course the governments work for their state welfare, but this should not affect the neighbors, because a pain to a state is a pain to the country..

    The words said by Mr. Babu are not to be taken seriously as such because he shouldered a responsibility of his people and for no reason are very badly ill treated and Mr. Rossiah spoke abruptly just to justify his silence on the issue..

    The ill treatment given to the state representatives would definitely be an insult to the state as such, because what so ever the reason be a guest should always be respected, and that too a representative of the state should be given prior importance for his post and the position in the society… It doesn’t mean that he should be given first preference but at least the minimum requirements are to be provided..

    Irrespective to the political party, when the Maharatra became one in their view not to let us see Babli why is Andhra in the differences.. Why are the the political differences coming into picture when a state issue is concerned… Only when the government and the opposition fight as a team and central government comes into picture and makes lines in benefiting the people of India as a whole and not the states individually will the inter states disputes come to an end…

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