Amaravati, Sep 7 (IANS) The ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh have blamed each other for the violence during TDP leader Nara Lokesh’s padayatra in Bhimavaram town earier this week.
Lokesh, who is the General Secretary of TDP, has termed the attack on his Yuva Galam padayatra on Tuesday night as pre-planned. He also slammed the police for booking TDP leaders and arresting them instead of taking action against those who attacked the padayatra.
Lokesh, the son of TDP President and former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, also accused the ruling party leaders of using anti-social elements to disrupt his padayatra.
However, Minister for Civil Supplies, Karumuri Venkata Nageswara Rao, alleged that it was TDP which hatched a conspiracy to create unrest in Bhimavaram at the behest of Lokesh.
He said Lokesh’s gang of anti-social elements attacked people with sticks and stones.
Some supporters of both the parties were injured during the clashes on Tuesday night. There were heated arguments between the two sides, leading to violence.
The police had to intervene to disperse the clashing groups. Hours after the violence, the police raided the camp of the Yuva Galam padayatra.
The TDP alleged that policemen attacked those asleep and whisked away 43 workers. The men were taken around in police vehicles to various places till Wednesday night before being produced before a magistrate, who remanded them to judicial custody.
The TDP workers have been booked on charges of attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy and for carrying lethal weapons. The cases were booked based on complaints filed by a man from the Scheduled Caste community, a police constable, and a YSRCP leader.
A total of 52 accused have been named, including TDP West Godavari district president Sitarama Lakhsmi and former MLA Chintamaneni Prabhakar. As many 38 of those booked are Yuva Galam volunteers.
The West Godavari police also issued a notice to Lokesh for making provocative speeches and violating the permission given for his padayatra.
Lokesh, though, refused to accept the notice, and questioned the police as to why no notice has been issued to YSRCP men who indulged in violence.
“We have photographs of those who attacked us. What was Peddireddy Midhun Reddy (YSRCP MP from Rajampet) doing in Bhimavaram? Why did his men come here,” asked Lokesh.
Asserting that he never violated the law in any part of the state, Lokesh said he had already informed the police that disturbances might be created during his padayatra in Bhimavaram on September 4.
Meanwhile, Chandrababu Naidu accused YSRCP leaders of sending 'rowdies' to attack TDP workers for raising people’s issues. Those questioning the government are not being allowed to come out, he alleged.
Naidu also claimed that he could be arrested sometime soon.
Interacting with people in Anantapur district, the former Chief Minister said he could even be attacked.
"Today or tomorrow, they could arrest me. They may even attack me," Naidu said.
The violence in Bhimavaram came amid the heightened political tension between the ruling and the main opposition parties. Violence had erupted during Naidu’s tour in Rayalaseema region last month. The TDP President was even booked for attempt to murder.
With elections in the state due in a few months' time, both Naidu and his son are running intensive campaigns highlighting the 'failures' of the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government.
Lokesh’s padayatra crossed the 2,800 km milestone at Vempa village in the Bhimavaram Assembly segment on Wednesday.
Titled Yuva Galam (voice of youth), the 4,000 km padayatra began on January 27.
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