Jagan Mohan Reddy demolishes Chandrababu Naidu’s office

Jagan Mohan Reddy demolishes Chandrababu Naidu’s office: Is this cleaning up Andhra Pradesh or petty politics?

A week ago, Chandrababu Naidu embarked on a  along with family to recuperate from the crushing election defeat of his Telugu Desam Party (TDP). But no jacuzzi or sauna on the Atlantic or the Mediterranean coasts could soothe the aching soul of Naidu, whose woes at home only multiplied in his absence.

Just as he was packing bags for the vacation, he was threatened with the  in Amaravati. And a couple of days after his departure, four of his party’s six Rajya Sabha members eloped to the BJP. This was followed by reports that some of TDP’s Assembly members too would jump ship.

Then came an announcement by new Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy of the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) that the “illegal” government annexe next to Naidu’s private home, which he had been using for meetings, would be demolished. At the same time, it became known that the new government had scaled down the security cover for Naidu’s family members. Earlier, Naidu’s own security had been downsized.

And when Naidu returned home on the midnight of Tuesday, he was greeted not with garlands and crackers from supporters but with the deafening noise of bulldozers and jackhammers. While the annexe called Praja Vedika (people’s platform) was being demolished, he faced the unmistakable threat of his main home being the next target. Both the private home and the government annexe allegedly stand on what should be the riverbed of the Krishna and so violate laws. They probably do.All this means one thing. The honeymoon after the stormy 11 April election to the Assembly and the Lok Sabha (first phase) in the state had been too brief. Jagan’s promise of a vendetta-free politics had raised the hope that peace might reign for a while after all.

Indeed, there were no brickbats — though no bouquets either — exchanged by Jagan and Naidu for some time. Always smiling and wringing his hands like a shy groom, the new Andhra Pradesh chief minister was humble to the fault after his swashbuckling election victory, earning admirers in the process. Like the wise man who had once said, Jagan was showing even his foes that the surest way to rise was to descend.

Now, forget all this. It only proved to be a lull after a storm, but before another one. First came the West Bengal sort of — well, almost — dingdong battles between the workers of YSRCP and TDP. Then came what looks like the Tamil Nadu type of vendetta from the winning party against the losing one.

There is no case for arguing that every action taken by Naidu during his term as chief minister was lilywhite clean. But the new chief minister appears to be in a tearing hurry to punish Naidu for crimes yet uninvestigated. Accused of being corrupt to the core and taunted with jibes about his periodic visits to courts to clear himself of the cases against him, Jagan is driven by a burning desire to turn the tables on Naidu. He is bent upon exposing the TDP leader as the very fountain of corruption.

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