The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) on Friday called for protests across Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring Telangana after a local court in Maharashtra issued an arrest warrant against Andhra Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and 13 others in a 2010 case related to an agitation staged by the party over the Babli project across Godavari river. The TDP claimed that arrest warrant reeked of “political vendetta” and accused the the BJP of trying to intimidate the party.
Dharmabad’s judicial magistrate first class, N R Gajbhiye, who issued the warrant, has directed the police to arrest all the accused and produce them in the court by September 21.
“This is nothing, but a conspiracy by the BJP to intimidate the TDP. The BJP is afraid of the alliance that the TDP is forming in Telangana and the arrest warrant, which had expired, has been renewed to intimidate us,” Telangana TDP president L Ramana said.
TDP leader B Venkanna also called it a “revenge politics by the BJP, (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and Amit Shah”. “They are targeting TDP for exiting the NDA,” he said.
In July 2010, the TDP, led by Naidu, had organised a massive protest against the construction of Babli barrage in Maharashtra’s Nanded district. The TDP leaders had then objected to the dam across Godavari stating that water flow to downstream areas in Telangana would be affected.
During the protest, TDP leaders had crossed over from Telangana to Maharashtra and were planning to reach the barrage site, but were taken into custody by the police soon after they crossed into Maharashtra and charged under several IPC sections.
The Dharmabad court had reportedly issued the arrest warrant on July 5 and it was supposed to be executed by August 16. The date was corrected to September 21 and reissued after a Nanded resident file a petition asking why action was not taken based on the arrest warrant.
Besides Naidu, Andhra Water Resources Minister Devineni Umamaheswara Rao, Social Welfare Minister N Anand Babu and former MLA G Kamalakar (who subsequently joined the Telangana Rashtra Samithi) were booked in the case.
Naidu’s son and State Information Technology Minister N Lokesh said that his father and the other TDP leaders would appear in court. “He fought to protect the interests of Telangana. He even refused to seek bail when he was arrested.”