Condemning the downgrading of security, TDP state president Kala Venkata Rao wrote that YSRCP should be held responsible in case of any mishap.

TDP demands restoration of high security cover for Chandrababu Naidu and Lokesh File Photo
news Controversy Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - 14:55

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has demanded that the Andhra Pradesh government must restore security cover for former Chief Minister and party chief Chandrababu Naidu, and his son Nara Lokesh, who is also an MLC. A statement issued by TDP state president Kala Venkata Rao said that Naidu faces “severe threat from extremists, terrorists, fundamentalists, red sanders smugglers, anti social elements, political opponents, etc.”. 

Accusing the government and the security review committee (SRC) of reducing cover with “malafide intentions and political motivations,” the party has demanded the restoration of security to its original level. The statement also said that the YSRCP government must take responsibility in case of any mishap to Naidu and Lokesh resulting from reduced security cover. 

Naidu was provided with high-level Z plus category security with protection by commandos of the National Security Guards (NSG), after he narrowly escaped a landmine attack by Maoists in 2003. The incident occurred at Alipiri near Tirupati. 

After the TDP lost the 2019 elections, the YSRCP government had scaled down the security cover for the TDP chief. However, Naidu approached the Andhra Pradesh High Court challenging the move, claiming that his life was still under threat from Maoists. While Naidu had complained that the number of security personnel attached to him had been reduced to 74, the Advocate General had argued that as Leader of Opposition, Naidu was only entitled to 58 security personnel, and that the Z plus security had not been reduced. However, the HC had directed the government to restore the strength of security personnel to 97. 

In his statement, Kala Venkata Rao said that “the strength of security personnel has been drastically brought down by about 50% i.e., from 146 to 67.”

Venkata Rao also condemned the downgraded cover for Lokesh. Lokesh’s security cover was earlier dropped from Z category to Y plus, and recently from Y plus to X category. 

In 2016, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) was reported to have threatened to harm Naidu and Lokesh as “revenge”, following the killing of 28 Maoists by special forces near the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB) region. 

Stating that Lokesh also faces severe threat from extremists, Venkata Rao wrote that Lokesh is being provided with a bullet proof car and an additional PSO (personal security officer) even when placed under X category. Claiming that X category usually involves only one PSO, Venkata Rao called this an indication that Lokesh is faced with “severe threat.” 

“The reduction of security from Z scale to X scale is purely politically motivated and does not have any merits,” he wrote. 

Pointing to the deaths of then MLA Kidari Sarveswara Rao and former MLA Siveri Soma, who were killed by Maoists in the Araku area in September 2018 as an indication of the intention of ‘extremists’ to harm political leaders, Venkata Rao also wrote that Andhra police have “found evidence” to say that Naidu and his family members are still “prime targets” for Maoists. 

Recently, the YSRCP government also withdrew security cover for several former MLAs, MPs and ministers of the TDP, including former MP JC Diwakar Reddy, and former ministers Devineni Uma Maheswara Rao, Prathipati Pulla Rao, among others. 

 

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