The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Party equates ‘victim’ Naidu with Gandhi

Hyderabad, Oct. 7: “Violence did not stop Bapu, violence will not stop Babu,” “Dynamites cannot stop dynamism” — these are some of the slogans being painted on green-and-yellow (the Telugu Desam’s colours) placards next to artists giving final touches to life-size cutouts of Chandrababu Naidu in a blood-splattered shirt.

They will be displayed at prominent points as Naidu’s party and government gear up to make the most of a sympathy wave surging since the botched Naxalite attempt on the chief minister’s life last Wednesday when he was on his way to the Venkateswara temple at Tirumala.

The mass hysteria continued for the fifth day today with busloads of women activists of self-help groups descending on Naidu’s residence. Even though doctors attending to the chief minister have restricted visiting hours to three, Naidu is not turning away anyone.

The response has got even the Desam hierarchy mulling whether to advance state elections due next year, perhaps along with the five states going to polls in November-December, with the People’s War attack as an issue. The assassination bid could prove to be a godsend for the Desam, which was feeling the pinch of the incumbency factor.

“Already Naidu’s popularity graph is down and another drought next year (third year in succession) will create both dissidence in the party and also digruntlement among the people,” a senior leader said, defending the proposal.

The Desam’s weekly tabloid is ready for release tomorrow with blown-up pictures of the landmine attack. The party is also compiling reports on the raid from prominent newspapers and also editorials that lauded Naidu’s bravery at the hour of crisis to go all out against opponents.

Though Naidu’s right arm is still in a sling, his condition is improving. Nizams Institute of Medical Sciences director Dr Kakarna Subba Rao said it would take a minimum of four-six weeks for the chief minister to fully recover.

But he was back at work yesterday, venting his ire on officials for negligence and callousness. At a review meeting on law and order, Naidu castigated officials and his cabinet colleagues for “fooling around while he toiled”.

“Do I have to look into everything' Why are the officials in the secretariat not issuing proper guidelines and directions down below'” sources quoted him as asking.

He hinted at a major exercise to weed out the deadwood in the administration, sending jitters through the secretariat.

Preparations are on for Naidu to address his partymen through his fortnightly programme — dial-your-president — on Thursday. The programme’s popular government version — dial-your-CM — was cancelled yesterday, but is likely to be held next Monday.

As the government seemed bent on exploiting people’s sentiments with home minister T. Devender Goud ruling out talks with the outlaws, a civil liberties group urged the government to order a ceasefire and hold discussions with the Naxalites instead of talking about revenge.

“Why talk of lack of ideology among extremists when the same does not exist among the average TDP and Congress workers'” asked Keshavrao Jadhav, the president of the state unit of Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties.

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