The sudden attack on Andhra Opposition leader YS Jaganmohan Reddy inside the Vizag airport on Thursday has triggered a political uproar in the state with the ruling and opposition parties mounting accusations of ‘conspiracies’ at each other.
While the attack has drawn flak for security lapses in the airport, it has also become the centre point of a controversy and given rise to several conspiracy theories.
It’s been close to a year since Jagan undertook a state-wide walkathon covering around 3,600 km, despite having an obligation to attend the CBI court in Hyderabad every Friday. Police suspect that the assailant, a waiter in a restaurant at the Vizag airport identified as Srinivas Rao, was aware of Jagan’s weekly arrival.
Hours after the attack, AP DGP RP Thakur said that Srinivas, who attacked Jagan in the pretext of taking a selfie, claimed that he is a ‘fan of YS Jagan’. Several politicians, including Andhra IT minister Nara Lokesh and Telangana CM KCR expressed concern over the attack, while Union Minister for Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu condemned the act and initiated a probe.
While both the TDP and YSRCP are pushing their own conspiracy theories, in recent times the TDP has been alleging a “BJP-YSRCP tie-up to conspire and create obstacles” to overthrow the government.
While calling the attack on Jagan a “drama”, Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu accused the Centre of trying to intimidate his government. He claimed that the attack was scripted by the Centre to create a law and order situation and bring in President’s rule in the state.
Even before the CM responded, BJP national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP GVL Narasimha Rao saw a “political motive” behind the attack, saying, “There is suspicion about the political motives behind this attack, no one will plan such attacks or any violence without a motive.” Alleging that the TDP was afraid of losing in the 2019 polls, he also sought a judicial probe into the incident.
Later, Naidu warned GVL against making such remarks and scorning his demand for a judicial probe said, “Let them do whatever they want.” He added that the incident had taken place in the jurisdiction of the Centre and asked how the state government could be held responsible.
Signalling further political tremors, on Friday two petitions were moved in the Hyderabad High Court seeking a Central agency inquiry. While one petition is from individuals, the other is from former MP and YSRCP leader YV Subba Reddy suspecting a “conspiracy by the TDP government and state police machinery”.
YSRCP senior leader and PAC (Public Accounts Committee) chairman Buggana Rajendranath Reddy speaking to media in Hyderabad objected to the way CM Naidu responded to the attack on Jagan. Rajendranath alleged that the poor administration seen in AP has never before been seen in India.
He further demanded, “We don’t trust AP investigation agencies, we demand a third-party investigation into the matter. Who will believe if you fabricate an 8-9-page letter labelling him [the attacker] as a fan. All this shows that you are acting with certain motives, you want to take forward the investigation as per your motives, that’s why the DGP came out with a press meet within two hours after the incident.”
Demanding a “comprehensive inquiry with a central agency”, Rajendranath mocked Chandrababu’s reference to the attack as a true result of Operation Garuda as predicted by Telugu actor Sivaji. Chandrababu had claimed that ‘Operation Garuda’ was being executed to achieve the BJP’s alleged “vested interests” against Andhra Pradesh.
Responding to the “conspiracy” allegations by the TDP government, the BJP’s official spokesperson Shyam Kishore said such allegations come from “intolerance”.
Speaking to TNM, Shyam Kishore said, “Whoever be the victim of the attack, it is condemnable… the investigation agencies will probe into who is behind it. But the comments by Naidu show his intolerance and fear of loss in the coming elections.”
He further lamented that the CM was placing his belief in an actor instead of on his own state machinery. He said, “He has lost trust in the state police and intelligence system, soon people will lose trust in him. Maybe it would be better to appoint him (Sivaji) the state intelligence adviser.”
Responding to Naidu’s allegations about the BJP’s orchestration of ‘Operation Garuda’, he said, “He is merely trying to score political mileage as his graph is falling rapidly but it will only boomerang on him.”
Meanwhile, several media outlets were seen running conspiracy theories on par with political parties.