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Bulldozer politics erupts in AP: Jagan, Oppn at loggerheads

Hyderabad: The country has seen the Uttar Pradesh government’s JCBs and demolition drives in Uttar Pradesh. Down south, another version of demolition politics is unfolding as political opponents in Andhra Pradesh have alleged that the ruling YSRCP is resorting to demolition drives to target them.

The official reasons range from illegal encroachment to road widening work. However the opposition parties are not buying this argument.

Ippatam, a nondescript village in Guntur district, is the setting for the latest episode of demolition politics. On Friday, the authorities demolished the front portions of several houses and shops, for a road widening project. Incidentally, the Jana Sena Party had organised its foundation day event here on March 14 this year after it failed to get any other venue allegedly at the state government’s behest.

The residents of Ippatam allege that the demolition under the garb of road widening is the YSRCP’s retribution as they had given their lands for the JSP’s public meeting earlier this year.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) politburo member, Bonda Umamaheswara Rao, accused Chief Minister, Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy of beginning his rule on a destructive note. “Over the past three-and-half years, he has been indulging in demolitions and attacks on those who are questioning his corrupt practices,” he said.

Telugu movie star and Jana Sena Party founder, Pawan Kalyan arrived in Ippatam on Saturday to express his support for the villagers of Ippatam. As expected, high drama unfolded when authorities tried to prevent him from going to the village. Pawan Kalyan finally had his way and met the villagers of Ippatam.

“This is pure vendetta,” Pawan Kalyan said later. “What is the point in widening a road to 100 feet when the village doesn’t even have a bus service. This government which can’t even repair the pitiable roads in the state is talking of laying a road,” he commented.

TDP leaders point to several incidents of demolition politics where the properties of its party leaders have been targeted ever since Jagan Mohan Reddy took over as the CM.

A few months ago, the authorities had demolished portions of TDP leader Chintakayala Ayyanapatrudu’s home compound wall in Narsipatnam citing encroachment of government property.

In October 2020, revenue department officials in Visakhapatnam had charged GITAM university of encroaching 40.51 acres of land, and went on to raze a compound wall and other structures on the encroached land. The university was established by late M.V.V.S. Murthi who was associated with the TDP.

In December the same year, revenue officials had demolished a shed and compound wall on the land owned by the Visakhapatnam (East) TDP MLA, Velagapudi Ramakrishna Babu, in Rushikonda.

On Saturday, after a stone was pelted at his convoy in Nandigama, TDP supremo Chandrababu responded angrily, that his party is not scared of the YSRCP scare tactics.

The ruling party leaders have been claiming that the government is going as per the law.

Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh are due in 2024 but the political temperatures are already reaching boiling point. Political observers say that that demolition politics will continue to dominate in the run-up to assembly polls.