The Telegraph
Sunday , June 8 , 2014
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Naidu invites, Jagan snubs

Hyderabad, June 7: Nawaz Sharif may have jumped domestic hurdles to come to Narendra Modi’s swearing-in but when it comes to Telangana and residuary Andhra Pradesh, neighbourly walls are not so easily breached.

K. Chandrasekhar Rao and N. Chandrababu Naidu have been drawn into a public spat over the Telangana chief minister’s allegedly discourteous invite that prompted the Andhra Pradesh chief minister-elect to skip the June 2 oath-taking in Hyderabad.

But Naidu now faces a possibly more embarrassing blow from a closer neighbour. The leader of the Opposition-in-waiting in Andhra has decided to boycott his chief minister’s swearing-in tomorrow in what old-timers described as an unprecedented move in the state’s history.

YSR Congress president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy has declared Naidu’s upcoming coronation as needlessly extravagant and a piece of political gimmickry.

Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan will swear Naidu in at 7.27pm tomorrow at a site off National Highway 5 between Vijayawada and Guntur, an area where the chief minister-designate wants Andhra’s new capital to come up.

Some 5 lakh people and about 1,000 VIPs are expected, including BJP bigwigs such as L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu. About a dozen chief ministers — mostly from the NDA — have been invited.

It’s this “lavish” scale of the event, at a time the new state is facing financial problems, that has peeved Jagan, who has 67 MLAs compared with the Telugu Desam Party’s 102 in a House of 175.

“On the one hand, Naidu has been seeking donations from the people to build the new capital and, on the other, he is splurging an estimated Rs 30 crore on the swearing-in. I personally will not ratify such wasteful expenditure,” he has said.

Jagan has alleged the event is a “publicity drama” to curry favour with the NDA while diverting people’s attention from the Desam’s poll pledges.

But Naidu too has hit back indirectly, claiming he personally rang up Jagan to invite him but it took seven attempts before the YSR boss would take his call. That, too, only after Naidu had publicly spoken about his six unsuccessful calls, the Desam chief alleged.

He said Jagan congratulated him on his victory and thanked him for the invite.

Desam leader Y. Rajendra Prasad alleged that Jagan didn’t want to come because Naidu’s launch of a farm loan waiver programme tomorrow — which the YSR Congress chief had dubbed “impossible to implement” — would be a loss of face for him. A few days ago, Naidu had regretted Rao’s move of merely having an invite couriered from government to government instead of getting it personally delivered to him by emissaries.

That had brought the Desam chief a public snub from Rao, who said: “I did not have any attendants to send an invitation to him.”

Naidu, though, has “properly” invited Rao to his oath-taking but the Telangana Rashtra Samithi boss is yet to confirm his attendance.

Sources said Naidu planned to induct one member from ally BJP into his cabinet tomorrow — for the first time in his career. The Desam has one Union ministry berth despite Naidu’s efforts to get more.