Yet another controversy erupted against the ruling YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh after an image of a flex board set up on the occasion of Dharmavaram MLA Kethireddy Venkatrami Reddy’s birthday, blocking a statue of APJ Abdul Kalam, was widely shared on social media, with several users calling it an insult to the former President of India.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) General Secretary and MLC Nara Lokesh tweeted, “Shocking to see YSRCP leaders in Dharmavaram disrespect the statue of former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam by blocking it with birthday flexis. Now, except statues of YSR, no statue of great people who have contributed to the country is valued or respected in AP.”
Shocking to see YSRCP leaders in Dharmavaram disrespect the statue of former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam by blocking it with birthday flexis. Now, except statues of YSR, no statue of great people who have contributed to the country is valued or respected in AP. pic.twitter.com/ni5F5HfHVc— Lokesh Nara #StayHomeSaveLives (@naralokesh) October 13, 2020
Supporters of the opposition TDP and actor-politician Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party (JSP) have been sharing the image widely, saying that the YSRCP had insulted APJ Abdul Kalam for the publicity of its own leader.
However, Dharmavaram police said that the flex board was set up by residents of Dharmavaram town to communicate birthday wishes to YSRCP MLA Kethireddy Venkatrami Reddy. Police claimed that the persons who had set up the flex board a few days ago were not directly affiliated with the MLA or the YSRCP. “They were local youngsters who were unaware of the importance of Abdul Kalam’s statue. Once it was noticed by others, the flex was removed,” Dharmavaram Circle Inspector said.
YSRCP supporters and leaders have been criticised in the past for prominent displays of party colours. The Andhra Pradesh High Court has even ordered the removal of the YSRCP party colours of green, blue and white from panchayat offices and other government buildings earlier.
In November 2019, the YSRCP government became embroiled in another controversy surrounding APJ Abdul Kalam, after the Jagan Mohan Reddy government renamed an award scheme for Class 10 students from “Dr. APJ. Abdul Kalam Pratibha Puraskar Awards” to “YSR Vidya Puraskars”, which was criticised.
However, Jagan recalled the government order immediately, with his office claiming he was not aware of the order until it was reported in the media.
The controversy was preceded by the YSRCP government renaming many schemes implemented by the previous TDP government after Jagan’s late father YS Rajasekhara Reddy, who was also the CM of Andhra Pradesh The TDP government had previously named most of its schemes after its founder, NT Rama Rao.