Naidu leads protest rally against Anna Hazare’s arrest

first_imgThe so-called crusade against corruption launched by noted social activist Anna Hazare is up for hijack by Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu to run down the ruling Congress party and gain political mileage in Andhra Pradesh.Apparently aiming at projecting himself as “Andhra Anna Hazare,” Naidu on Tuesday led a massive rally with hundreds of party workers in Hyderabad in protest against the arrest of the veteran Gandhian in New Delhi.Later, he staged a dharna along with party leaders at the Tank Bund on the banks of Hussainsagar lake, demanding immediate release of Anna. He strongly condemned the arrest of Anna and announced that he would go on day-long fast in support of the fight against corruption. The TDP president is also contemplating taking up indefinite fast in New Delhi in the first week of September on corruption and also agricultural crisis in the state.The exact date would be decided after discussion at the politburo meeting, party sources said. Ironically, Naidu himself had faced several charges of corruption during his nine-year rule between 1995 and 2004. Some of the allegations that he had faced during his regime were: promotion of his own company Heritage Foods at the cost of government dairy in Chittoor district, kickbacks during the land acquisition for Yeleru reservoir and social welfare hostels in Visakhapatnam, granting of excise contractors on extraneous considerations that caused a loss of Rs 500 crore to the state exchequer, allotment of 1000 acres of land for IMG-Bharata in the name of development of international sports complex etc.advertisementAt one stage, the CPI-M brought out a booklet against Naidu in the name of: “Chandrababu Zamana, Avineeti Khazana” (Chandrababu’s rule was the most corrupt), which formed the basis for former chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy to attack him in and out of the assembly. However, there has been no case of corruption pending against Naidu at present.The TDP president was holding a meeting of the party’s extended executive committee meeting at NTR Trust Bhavan, the party’s headquarters at Banjara Hills, when the reports of Anna’s arrest reached him. He immediately cancelled the meeting and announced that he would take out a rally in support of the arrested Gandhian.Setting aside his party flag, Naidu held the national flag and went on a 10-km long march from the party office to Ambedkar Statue at Tank Bund. Hundreds of party workers including MLAs participated in the rally and many others passers-by joined it midway. After reaching the Tank Bund, he garlanded the statue of Ambedkar and sat on a dharna till evening.The protesters demanded immediate release of Anna Hazare and his supporters. They raised slogans of “Down with corrupt government” and “Bring Jan Lokpal bill”. The protest threw traffic out of gear in busy areas like Punjagutta, Khairatabad, Secretariat and Tank Bund. “The response to the rally was overwhelming and spontaneous. It shows how the people are fed up with the corrupt Congress government. We will continue this fight till we achieve the goal,” senior TDP leader Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said.Meanwhile, the arrest of Anna evoked strong reaction from opposition parties, civil society groups and youth and student organizations in various universities across the state. Though the normal life was not disrupted much, there were protest rallies and relay hunger strikes in various parts of the state. At Indira Park in Hyderabad, hundreds of youth and students under the banner of India Against Corruption, Hyderabad chapter, took out a rally protest against Anna’s arrest. They demanded immediate release of the veteran social worker. Some activists also launched a three-day fast at Indira Park to express solidarity with Anna.Rallies and fasts are also being held in Vijayawada, Guntur, Visakhapatnam, Vijayanagaram, Nizamabad and other towns. Students of Sri Venkateshwara University in Tirupati, Sri Krishna Devaraya University in Anantapur and JNTU in Kadapa also launched relay hunger strikes in support of Hazare. On Monday night, various organisations like Young India took out candlelight rallies at Tank Bund in support of Hazare.Lok Satta party president Dr Jayaprakash Narayan said with the arrest of Anna, the UPA government had lost the people’s support and moral right to rule the country. He demanded autonomous status to investigating agencies like CBI and ACB, besides extending the Jan Lok Pal institutions across the country.Noted social activist and former union energy secretary Dr E A S Sarma also expressed shock and distress at the arrest of Anna and his team. “It is nothing but a blatant attempt to shield the corrupt and gag the voice of the people of this country against the scourge of corruption and black money in India. The government’s motives are clear. We appeal to the civil society organizations all over the country to support Anna Hazare, despite differences in perception, if any, as his struggle against corruption is the people’s struggle against the well entrenched corrupt,” Dr Sarma said.advertisementlast_img read more