The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM fights shy of Black Cats

Hyderabad, Oct. 13: Chief minister . Chandrababu Naidu today rejected the state cabinet’s proposal of extra security for him because it would demoralise police who were fighting the extremists.

The first meeting of the cabinet after the October 1 attack on Naidu, instead, proposed to raise a separate VIP security force. The proposal was tabled and discussed. A decision is likely at a later cabinet session, official sources said.

With security beefed up around the chief minister’s Jubilee Hills home, the cabinet also approved a proposal to buy more metal detectors, jammers and bullet-proof cars and jackets.

All ministers and elected representatives touring Naxalite-infested districts would be provided bullet-proof jackets and cars.

Naidu is said to have told the cabinet he would consider the Centre’s offer of National Security Guards protection after a tour of the districts over the next 15 days. He will undertake a re-run of the aborted Tirupati trip on Thursday, when he will first travel in an open jeep and then in a convoy of three bullet-proof cars to Tirumala via the Ghat roads. State police are not taking any chances this time and have deployed 500 personnel to sterilise the route.

In another resolution, the cabinet urged extremists to give up violence and return to the mainstream and help restore peace in villages. Naidu urged members of his Telugu Desam Party and elected representatives to enlist people’s support in getting the extremists to give up violence.

The cabinet did not lose the opportunity to discuss prospects of an early poll to cash in on the “sympathy wave” sweeping the state after the assassination attempt. The meeting reportedly endorsed Naidu’s proposal to organise district-wise public meetings to gauge public mood before deciding on polls — scheduled next year in the normal course.

“The party meetings will be completed within the next 20 days, depending on the physical condition of Naidu,” a cabinet spokesman said.

A senior minister said early polls could not be ruled out as the government machinery has been directed to rehearse pre-poll measures with immediate effect. “It is not just the sympathy-wave factor, but even the Opposition parties, both nationally and within the state, want to catch voters before the impact of the severe drought for the third consecutive year has struck home. Hence, the rush to prepone polls,” he said.

The cabinet approved a proposal to provide drought pensions to nearly 600,000 farmers. “An amount of Rs 48.60 crore will be spent for providing the farmers 10 kg rice each month for the next nine months, in view of the severe drought in the state,” the spokesman said.

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