Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu on 1 March staged a sit-in inside the arrival lounge of the Tirupati International Airport at Renigunta after police detained him. Police said that they could not allow him to enter the temple town due to enforcement of model code of conduct for the ongoing municipal elections in the state.
Naidu was scheduled to join his Telugu Desam Party colleagues to protest against the YSR Congress Party’s alleged malpractices that come in the way of a free and fair election. The TDP has alleged that the YSR Congress, with the help of police, is forcing the opposition candidates to withdraw their nominations in the municipal elections scheduled to be held on 10 March.
“Political parties are taking out rallies on account of elections and thousands of pilgrims are visiting Tirumala temple. Why are you imposing restrictions only on us?” Naidu asked policemen.
Police kept several TDP politicians from District Chittoor like former minister N Amarnath Reddy, former MLA M Sugunamma, MLC BN Dorababu and district TDP president Pulivarthi Nani under house arrest.
The police have not permitted the TDP to stage any dharna though — citing the coronavirus pandemic and also the enforcement of the model code of conduct that prohibits any agitation by any political party.
Naidu had landed at the Tirupati airport at about 10.30 AM to take part in the dharna of the TDP. Senior police officials who were already present at the airport detained him.
The police authorities refused to concede the request of Chandrababu Naidu to allow him to at least submit a memorandum to the district collector and the superintendent of police. They seized the mobile phones of Naidu and his associates.
When the police served him with a notice stating that he would have to be arrested if he violated the prohibitory orders, an angry Naidu squatted on the floor at the airport lounge in protest. With folded hands, the police officials pleaded with him not to create disturbance at the airport, but the leader was unmoved.
They said the collector and the superintendent of police would come to the airport to receive his representations. As an opposition leader, he had every right to meet the officials, the leader asserted.
The authorities are making efforts to send Naidu back to Amaravati.