“Are you playing a drama? Why are you detaining me?” Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu could be heard arguing in a video as he was detained by the police at the Tirupati Airport in Andhra Pradesh’s Renigunta on Monday. High drama ensued at the airport after the former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister was detained while on his way to Chittoor to take part in a protest against the alleged high-handedness of the ruling Jagan Mohan Reddy government. The police detained Naidu, citing COVID-19 rules and the election code of conduct ahead of the Andhra Pradesh urban body elections.
In a video that the TDP cadres posted on social media platforms, Chandrababu Naidu was seen arguing with senior police officers and even staging a sit-in for being denied passage. A senior police officer then sat beside him and pleaded with folded hands, in an attempt to convince the former Chief Minister from attending the protest.
The Leader of Opposition told the police that he will meet the District Collector and detail his plans. When obstructed by the police, Naidu lashed out saying, “Isn’t this outrageous? Don’t I have fundamental rights to meet the Collector? What happened to this country? Am I going to kill someone? I have been a Chief Minister for 14 years and I am the Leader of the Opposition.”
He shared a video of the confrontation at the airport on Twitter. “We will not be stopped. We will not be silenced. Your fear-driven, state-sponsored vendetta won't stop me from reaching out to my people. Grow up,” he said, addressing Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
The high drama ensued after the police denied permission to Chittoor district TDP president Pulivarthi Venakatamani Prasad to organise a protest against the ruling YSRP government, which was supposed to be attended by Chandrababu Naidu. The protest was planned on Monday from 11 am to 2 pm near the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Chittoor.
"Under COVID-19 regulations, huge gatherings are not allowed. The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) for the Andhra Pradesh urban local body election is also in effect. This is an agitational programme and not in the nature of an election campaign, and thus not permissible under MCC," said a police official denying consent.
TDP planned to rope in 5,000 cadres for the protest but the police also cited traffic issues on national and state highways for their denial.
"Any violation of this order will be strictly dealt with in accordance with the law," police warned.
Naidu and TDP state president Kinjarapu Atchannaidu demanded ruling Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) leaders to explain why the opposition has no right to hold tours and meetings in the state.
"YSRCP leaders have no right to create obstacles for the visits of such a senior leader. The common people were having doubts now whether they were brought under a jungleraj after the YSRCP came to power," remarked Atchannaidu.
He reminded that Naidu was a Chief Minister for 14 years with 40 years of political experience and condemned the alleged house arrests of Chittoor party leaders.