The demolition of an annexe of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu's residence in Amaravati has triggered an uproar with main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) questioning the rationale behind YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government's action.
While Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy said that the drive against illegal structures will begin with the demolition of 'Praja Vedika' to send a clear message, the TDP termed the action as political vendetta.
This is the first major action by Jagan Reddy targeting the TDP chief since taking over as the Chief Minister last month.
The overnight demolition of the building constructed by Naidu's government adjacent to his house for holding official meetings in 2017 has evoked strong protest from the main opposition party, which launched a counter attack on Jagan Reddy citing the alleged breach of rules by him in building a house in Hyderabad.
TDP leaders said since Leader of Opposition Chandrababu Naidu had requested the government to hand over the building, Jagan Reddy got it demolished to deny him his request.
The demolition of 'Praja Vedika', built by then TDP government at a cost of Rs 5 crore, began Tuesday night, hours after Jagan Reddy's two-day meeting with District Collectors and Superintendents of Police concluded at the same venue.
The Chief Minister held the meeting in the building to highlight the point that was constructed in violation of all laws and regulations as the area forms part of the river bed.
Jagan, as the Chief Minister is popularly known, said Naidu himself was living an illegal house. Indicating that Naidu's residence may be the next target, he said the drive would not stop with 'Praja Vedika' but would cleanse the entire stretch at Undavalli on the banks of Krishna river.
The Chief Minister said Naidu was not only living in an illegal house but also got an illegal building constructed adjacent to it. He alleged that this encouraged others to build unauthorised constructions.
Barely a couple of hours after Jagan Reddy's remarks, the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) launched the demolition of the building.
Chandrababu Naidu, who returned from his foreign trip late last night when the demolition of the building adjacent to his house was going on, held a meeting with TDP leaders on Wednesday to discuss the issue.
The meeting felt that a building built with public funds for public purpose was demolished on technical grounds. The TDP leaders decided to take the issue to people.
"This is pure political vendetta. Just because the building may have to be given to the Leader of Opposition, Jagan has demolished it," said TDP leader Kalva Srinivasulu.
Praja Vedika (people's grievance cell) was built by the then TDP government as an extension to then Chief Minister Naidu's residence in 2017. Built at a cost of Rs 5 crore, it was being used by Naidu for official purposes as well as to hold party meetings.
As the TDP lost power to the YSRCP last month, Naidu on June 4 wrote to the Chief Minister to allow him to use the building to hold the meetings in his capacity as the Leader of Opposition.
TDP leaders targeted Jagan Reddy for calling the building illegal and reminded him that he built a palatial house at Lotus Pond in Hyderabad in violation of rules.
Former minister Uma Maheshwar Rao said Naidu, as the then Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh, did not take any action when Jagan's father Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and his family were living in an illegal house in Banjara Hills in Hyderabad. He said after coming to power, Rajasekhara Reddy got the construction regularised.
TDP's Andhra Pradesh unit chief Kala Venkat Rao wondered what message Jagan Reddy wants to give to people by demolishing a government building overnight.
Meanwhile, actor and Jana Sena Party chief Pawan Kalyan said the people can have confidence in the government only if its action did not stop at 'Praja Vedika' and all other illegal buildings were also demolished.