Post-poll violence in Andhra: YSRCP writes to President to prevent attacks

The letter was sent to the President along with an annexure containing instances of violence against the YSRCP cadre.
Post-poll violence in Andhra: YSRCP writes to President to prevent attacks
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Former Rajya Sabha MP from the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) Vijaysai Reddy on Wednesday, June 12, wrote to President of India Droupadi Murmu asking her to prevent attacks by members of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Jana Sena against YSRCP cadre. 

“We urge you to ensure that the perpetrators of this violence are duly punished and to implement measures to prevent further attacks on YSRCP members in Andhra Pradesh,” Vijaysai Reddy wrote. The letter was sent to the President along with an annexure containing instances of violence against the YSRCP. 

According to the letter, large-scale violence was witnessed in Assembly constituencies which were TDP bastions, such as Macharla, Narasaraopet and Chittoor. “TDP is threatening YSRCP sympathisers to leave their houses and are even approaching their houses with JCB vehicles to demolish the houses of the vulnerable communities such as SCs, STs and Backward Classes populated villages with an ulterior motto of wiping out the party from the state,” the letter reads.

The TDP fought the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in an alliance with Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), securing major victories in both elections. TDP contested 144 of the total 175 seats, winning 135 seats. Jana Sena contested in 21 seats, winning all of them and BJP contested in 10 seats, winning eight. In the 25 Lok Sabha seats, TDP candidates were fielded in 17 seats, BJP in six and Jana Sena represented the alliance in two seats. TDP won 16 seats, BJP three and Jana Sena two.

Even after the conclusion of the elections, several videos have spread across social media platforms purportedly showing the YSRCP cadre being attacked by party leaders and workers associated with the Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP and the Jana Sena. 

One video shows Rajkumar, a YSRCP member and resident of Mangalagiri constituency in Guntur district, being attacked by a TDP member. Clutching a poster which reads, ‘Mana Mangalagiri Lokesh’ (Our Mangalagiri’s Lokesh), around four workers can be seen standing as a shirtless Rajkumar kneels and pleads for ‘forgiveness’, evidently under coercion. 

“I request Chandrababu Naidu, Bhuvaneshwari (Naidu’s wife) and others in the party to forgive me. My family and I ask for your forgiveness,” Rajkumar says before bowing to touch the feet of one of his attackers. The attackers remark that it isn’t their feet he should touch but instead ask forgiveness from Nara Lokesh, the TDP general secretary, incumbent Mangalagiri MLA, who is also Naidu’s son.

Less than a two-hour drive from Mangalagiri, TDP members clad in yellow scarves (TDP’s party colour) also attacked the residence of YSRCP leader and ex-Gudivada MLA Kodali Nani, a vocal face of his party, on June 7 in Krishna district. A video shows Nani’s house being attacked with stones and eggs amid slogans of ‘Down Down Kodali Nani’ as police officials can be seen trying to contain the mob. Following the attack, a local TDP leader told a TV channel, “Kodali Nani used to criticise TDP earlier, but he is currently silent and hiding like a coward. Why doesn’t he respond now? Someone with Chandrababu Naidu’s ‘stahiye’ (stature) doesn’t need to deal with him. We are enough.”

The use of the word 'stature’ has been a recurring theme in Andhra politics on several counts to denote not just political superiority but also the caste dynamics. The word is often used to imply that one group, be it the Reddy's of YSRCP or Kammas of TDP, are superior to the other. Former YSRCP MLA Vallabhaneni Vamsi’s residence, which is located in Gannavaram between Krishna and NTR districts, was also attacked by a group of 15-20 men who broke vehicles and wielded batons. 

Both Vamsi and Kodali Nani were accused of verbally abusing Lokesh Nara’s mother Bhuvaneshwari in 2021 and implying that he was not born to Naidu. This made Naidu comment that ‘he wouldn’t enter the Assembly where his wife was disrespected.’ 

Meanwhile, Jana Sena, the party led by Kapu (forward caste) leader Pawan Kalyan was also involved in the violence. A group of men, allegedly belonging to the Jana Sena, beat up a hostel owner in Lakshmipuram and hurled caste slurs at him. A video of the incident shows them entering the courtyard of a building before the hostel owner, begs, touches their feet and apologises. YSRCP has alleged that the attack took place solely because the hostel owner had a board with the name ‘Reddy’ on it. 

Similar attacks took place on the residences of other YSRCP leaders like Vidadala Rajini in Guntur district. These attacks by TDP and Jana Sena are seen as a retaliation to attacks on their party cadres in the last five years when YSRCP was ruling the state. 

A 2019 video of Eluru TDP MLA Badeti Bujji leading an attack on YSRCP party workers in West Godavari district's Sanivarapupeta had gone viral then. Two months after forming the government, YSRCP was accused by the TDP of unlawful activities. The TDP even went so far as to launch a toll-free number in a bid to allegedly ‘safeguard’ party workers from the YSRCP. 

Post-poll violence in Andhra: YSRCP writes to President to prevent attacks
TDP launches toll-free number to 'save' party workers in Andhra from attacks by YSRCP

Palnadu, Tirupati, and Anantapur districts in Andhra Pradesh witnessed major violence on May 13, the day of polling, and a few subsequent days. Following 33 instances of violence, the Andhra Pradesh government constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the Election Commission’s orders. Apart from clashes between TDP-YSRCP supporters and mass damage to public property, the YSRCP MLA candidate from Macherla constituency Pinnelli Ramakrishna Reddy was captured on camera as he destroyed Electronic Voting Machines (EVMS), while polling was in progress. 

Post-poll violence in Andhra: YSRCP writes to President to prevent attacks
Andhra Pradesh SIT submits report on poll-related violence to DGP

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