Hyderabad, Nov. 22: The BJP-Telugu Desam Party duet in Andhra Pradesh played out of tune today with chief minister Chandrababu Naidu’s ally terming extremism — a key plank of the Desam — a non-issue.
State BJP president . Indrasena Reddy said the definition of referendum has lost its significance with the Desam seeking the people’s mandate (referendum) on the issue of extremism.
The BJP manifesto will sideline the issues of extremism and a separate Telengana state, he added.
“We will focus more on issues concerning the people,” Reddy said, adding that what was needed were programmes that provided for employment and facilitated peaceful coexistence. The state BJP today appointed party spokesperson Prof. S.V. Sheshagiri Rao as convener of its manifesto committee.
The BJP has lost many workers to violence perpetrated by the People’s War Group, but still does did not consider extremism an issue for seeking the people’s mandate, Reddy said.
“Providing equal opportunity for all is a constitutional mandate. But one need not seek a mandate against a social malaise,” Reddy said.
Naidu, who escaped a Naxalite bid on his life on October 1, continued his tirade against extremists and forecast stringent measures against the PWG during his one-hour address to partymen telecast by a Telugu channel.
He aimed his diatribe at the Congress, too, directly charging the party with colluding with the rebels to eliminate Desam workers. Naidu said Congressmen across the state were “hiring/assisting” the extremists to kill active Desam party workers and elected representatives.
Of the 330 politicians killed by the PWG, 141 belonged to the Desam, 80 to the Congress, 36 to the BJP, 30 to the Left parties and 37 to other outfits. “In 140 landmine blasts the extremists had killed 227 policemen and 75 civilians,” he added.
State Congress chief Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy had recently accused that the Desam’s policies had emboldened the Naxalites to target civilians and policemen.
Hinting at a crackdown on the PWG, Naidu said the Desam has drawn up a programme to systematically target the armed dalams at all levels.
Right now, the government is taking only defensive measures and keeping the offensive measures on hold till its gets another mandate.
Naidu claimed that the government’s firm resolve had yielded results.
“TDP has won 17 of the 21 mandal praja territorial council seats held after the dissolution of the Assembly,” he said. The seats were in the Naxalite-dominated areas of Warangal, Khammam and Medak districts.
But Naidu’s campaign against the extremists still has miles to go — Desam elected representatives from three Assembly segments — Kalwakurthi, Acchampeta and Jedcherla — in Mahboobnagar district made a fervent appeal to Naidu to protect their and their supporters’ lives from the Naxalites.
Nearly 80 party leaders from the district called on Naidu yesterday evening and appraised him of the threat calls and attempts on the lives of several of their family members over the last few months.
“I have also suffered the extremist attack. Wait for a few more days till we get more forces from the Centre. I will ensure protection for everyone,” Naidu told them.
It remains to be seen how he assures a wider constituency.