The YSRCP-led Andhra Pradesh government is all set to demolish the Praja Vedika or people’s grievance cell as six bulldozers besides dozens of workers arrived to vacate the premises ahead of the demolition of the sprawling complex on Wednesday.
Following a two-day meeting of district collectors and superintendents of police at the premises, preparations began to remove the furniture and electronic equipment and segregate items that can be reused. Anticipating protests from TDP leaders, a large contingent of police has been deployed outside the complex as the demolition may take place in the late hours of Tuesday or early Wednesday to avoid trouble.
Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who was on vacation abroad, is scheduled to return tonight, at his residence, located next to Praja Vedika. After a humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, Naidu had written to Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on June 5, requesting to allow him to use the building by considering it as an extension of the former’s official residence. Naidu said he would like to use the building to meet his party workers and people.
While there was no initial response, it was on last Saturday that the state government decided to take over the complex while Naidu was holidaying in Europe. On Monday, Chief Minister Reddy made the formal announcement in this regard.
Naidu, sources in TDP said, told party workers that the Lingamaneni guesthouse – his official residence since 2016 – is likely to be the next target of the government and that he may have to vacate the place on a short notice.
Naidu and his family own a newly-built four-storey bungalow in Hyderabad at Jubilee Hills on Road 65. The bungalow was built after their old house, at the same place, was demolished. On April 9, 2017, Naidu and his family had performed a housewarming ceremony but never lived there after that.
The former chief minister’s family shifted to Lingamaneni guesthouse at Undavalli which is now part of the Amaravati Capital Region.
However, Naidu may not be able to shift to Hyderabad as he has been named as an accused in an alleged case of bribery to a nominated Member of Legislative Council, Elvis Stephenson, to vote in favour of TDP nominee in Telanaga MLA elections in 2015. Fearing arrest, Naidu was forced to move to Vijayawada.
Meanwhile, several political leaders and activists have appealed to the Chief Minister not to demolish the complex which was built using public money. “I am of the opinion that since Praja Vedika has been built with public money, it should be used for public purposes by the government. Demolishing it would mean wasting Rs 8.90 crores of the tax-payers money,” state BJP chief Kanna Laxminarayana said.
Jana Sena Party supremo K Pavan Kalyan said he had no objection if the building was demolished if it was harming the environment. However, he added, if Praja Vedika was demolished, then similar buildings should be demolished instead of singling out just of them.
Former IAS officer and founder of Lok Satta Party Dr Jayaprakash Narayan said cash-strapped Andhra Pradesh cannot afford to waste public money. “Whatever is the reason for demolition, it is a public asset and it should not be wasted,” he said.
Minister of Municipal Administration and Urban Development Botsa Satyanarayana said the Chief Minister is determined to dismantle as the building was built illegally.