In a sensational statement, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Tuesday hinted that former CM late YS Rajasekhara Reddy may have played a role in the assassination attempt that was made on him, by Maoists in 2003.
Naidu had survived a claymore mine attack by Maoists on October 1, 2003 in Alipiri in Tirupati.
Speaking to reporters in an informal media interaction at his office at Velagapudi in Amaravati, Naidu made several allegations.
â€śIt was with the covert support from late YSR that Kollam Gangi Reddy, an international red sanders smuggler had provided logistics in the form of cell phone and money to the Maoists in attacking me,â€ť Naidu was quoted as saying.
Following the attack, Naidu's security was steeply stepped up, and the state government constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT).
â€śAfter the SIT nabbed Gangi Reddy, YSR had made several phone calls to police officers to find out if Gangi Reddy had revealed his name during interrogation. YSR took part in a protest rally against the attack only to evade suspicion and save himself. He wanted to meet Gangi Reddy directly, but police advised him that it was not good for a CM to meet a smuggler. So, he arranged a function in Gangi Reddy's village and met him secretly," Naidu alleged.
In 2003, Naidu was attacked hardly 100 metres away from the Alpiri toll gate, which is considered the entrance to the holy hill town of Tirumala.
As he was travelling in a bullet-proof car, Naidu managed to survive the blast, but the exterior of the car was shattered.
According to reports, Naidu suffered fractures on his right hand and collar bone and minor injuries on the chest and nose.
The attack was carried out by the People's War (PW), a militant outfit that had been banned by Naidu in July 1996.
Gangi Reddy was a native of Vathalur in Pullampet mandal in Kadapa district. As he controlled extensive crime rackets in both AP and Telangana during his stint in India, police in both the states had issued a 'wanted' notice against him.
He was also an accused in several red sander smuggling cases and had non-bailable arrest warrants piled up against him.
While 33 people were named in the chargesheet of the attack planned against Naidu, only four of them were arrested by the police.
In 2014, the Tirupati additional senior civil court upheld another court's sentence, of sending Ramaswamy Reddy, Nagarjuna, Panduranga Reddy alias Sagar and Kollam Gangi Reddy to 7 years rigorous imprisonment along with a fine of Rs 5,000.
Gangi Reddy was arrested in Mauritius in February 2015, following an Interpol red corner notice. Months after his arrest, he was brought to Hyderabad in November by a team of police officials. He was later sent to prison.
Naidu's latest comments come in the backdrop of two political incidents in the state.
While one of them is the Nandyal bye-poll, due to be held on August 23, the other is YS Jaganmohan Reddy's statement, that "There is nothing wrong in a person like Chandrababu Naidu being shot in the middle of the road."
On Tuesday, Naidu also hit back against Jagan's comment.
"What would you call a person who says that the CM should be shot dead, hit with slippers, threatens a Collector that he will be imprisoned and a Police Commissioner that his pension will be denied? A maniac? Jaganâ€™s comments reflect his mental condition. The people should understand and gauge the consequences if he were made Chief Minister,â€ť Naidu said.
Meanwhile, the TDP and the YSRCP are all set to clash in the bye poll.
Nandyal, a constituency in the state's Rayalaseema area, has been witnessing a political void ever since the death of its sitting MLA Bhuma Nagi Reddy from a heart attack on March 12.
The TDP candidate is Bhuma Brahmananda Reddy while the YSRCP candidate is Silpa Mohan Reddy
The EC announced that the counting of votes will be held on August 28, and electronic voting machines and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) will be used in all the polling stations.
(With IANS inputs)