Hyderabad/Ahmedabad, Aug. 27: Citing a security threat and keeping an eye on his secular credentials, Chandrababu Naidu is trying to dissuade Narendra Modi from visiting Hyderabad for Ganesh immersion celebrations.
The Gujarat chief minister is slated to visit the Andhra Pradesh capital on September 9 on the invitation of the Bhagyanagar Ganesh Samiti for the immersion ceremony.
But the Andhra chief minister is worried that Modi’s presence may spark trouble in Hyderabad. He is also anxious to reinforce his secular credentials and the image of being a friend of the minorities.
Hyderabad police chief M.V. Krishna Rao has said it is within his powers to keep Modi from stepping out of Begumpet airport. Rao added that the recent Mumbai blasts could vitiate the communal atmosphere during the Ganesh festival.
A top official of Modi’s office in Gandhinagar refused to react to the Andhra developments, saying he had “absolutely no idea. The chief minister is not here. I cannot say what he thinks about the issue”.
Both Modi and Naidu are now in Srinagar for the inter-state council meet. It is not known whether the two discussed Modi’s southern trip there.
The Telugu Desam Party chief has voiced concern at the way the Centre has tried to push through a bill banning cow slaughter and summoned a high-level meeting at the secretariat soon after Monday’s blasts in Mumbai and came up with a strategy to counter the VHP and allied outfits, which took out processions and burnt effigies of Pervez Musharraf after the bombings.
The Desam chief also instructed the administration to keep Modi from entering Hyderabad so that terrorists do not target the state capital against the backdrop of a perception that the Mumbai blasts could have been a reprisal for the riots in Gujarat.
Senior party leaders and Desam MPs have also requested Union minister of state for railways Bandaru Dattatreya to urge Modi to cancel his visit. The Desam politburo discussed the Gujarat chief minister’s visit and senior MPs urged Naidu to convey their fears to the Prime Minister’s Office as well as L.K. Advani. They pointed out that the assassins of former Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya hailed from Hyderabad.
Naidu has also spoken to BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu to try and stop Modi. He pointed out that the Bihar government had stopped VHP leaders Praveen Togadia and Giriraj Kishore from entering the state earlier this month in order to maintain communal peace.
Andhra BJP leaders said Naidu and Modi were “good friends earlier”, but relations had nosedived since last year’s Gujarat violence, which led the Desam chief to demand the latter’s resignation.
Gujarat BJP chief Rajendrasinh Rana, who is in Vadodara to welcome the Veeranjali Yatra, said he was not aware of Naidu and Rao’s remarks. He said he would discuss the matter with Modi.
“I cannot say whether he (Modi) should cancel his proposed visit or go ahead unless I talk to the chief minister,’’ Rana added.
Back in Andhra, state intelligence officials have taken into custody two Dasargah-e-Jihad-e-Shahadat (DJS) activists from the Nizamabad road, but police would not divulge details. In January, Andhra police had arrested five people who they claimed were DJS members responsible for 12 killings carried out to avenge the Godhra carnage.
State police have spread a dragnet for suspects on the Nagpur, Mumbai and Vijayawada roads since yesterday and are checking all vehicles on highways as well as in Hyderabad.