Hyderabad: The security details of former Andhra Pradesh chief minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu has been downgraded, party leaders said, alleging political vendetta by the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP).
Naidu’s convoy was stopped from going to the tarmac at Gannavaram airport near Vijayawada last week and he was asked to enter through a non-VIP entrance, the TDP complained.
“Chandrababu Naidu has Z+ security (24-hour security with armed NSG personnel and escort vehicle), but two vehicles have been reduced from his convoy. He had to travel in the bus along with other passengers at the airport last week. He has the security detail because of the threat he faces," said a senior TDP leader, who did not want to be named.
He recalled that Naidu’s security was increased to Z+ after he was attacked by armed Maoists in Tirupati in 2003. “The YSRCP has colluded with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to do this. It should be remembered just a year ago a TDP MLA and an ex-MLA were shot dead by Maoists," he added.
Last September, Maoists had gunned down Araku MLA Sarveswara Rao and ex-MLA S.Soma. The former had won on a YSRCP ticket, but later defected to the ruling TDP, which went on to lose the 2019 assembly polls. The YSRCP, led by chief minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, has 151 MLAs in the assembly out of 175, while the TDP has just 23.
“All this downgrading of security, by bringing down the number of escort vehicles from five to three, has happened in less than three weeks after the new YSRCP government was sworn in," said the TDP leader. The security status of a political leader is decided by the Union home minister, and the state government has to provide the force and implement it.
When contacted, a YSRCP functionary refuted the TDP’s allegations, and said that his party and the Andhra Pradesh government did not ask for any change in Naidu’s security. “We have not done anything."
The TDP leader pointed out that Naidu was given VIP clearance at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad. Naidu has, however, not said anything on the matter so far.
Jagan Reddy, the then opposition leader, was stabbed by an assailant in the Visakhapatnam airport last year while he was travelling to Hyderabad. He had sustained an injury in his upper-left arm. The attacker, a man named J. Srinivas Rao, was apprehended. The police had initially claimed that the man had done it for YSRCP’s publicity, but later told a local court that he had in fact tried to kill Reddy.