For Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, the problem that he has on his hands is not facing YSRC chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, but the recalcitrant ministers in his own cabinet or his legislators who, without a care in the world, tarnish the image of TDP while fighting their own turf wars with one another.
For instance, take Visakhapatnam land scam. On the face of it, it looks a very serious one with allegations that the value of the land involved is more than `2,000 crore in Kommadi and Mathurawada mandals. A majority of land parcels owned by the government had been taken over by others who either sold them or raised bank loans on them.
A few parcels of land in the scam were owned by private persons but they were not aware of it as they are settled abroad. The way the scam took place shows the sophistication and finesse with which the operators had acted. They tampered with the basic documents - adangals - which are proof of one’s ownership. There are allegations that changes were made even in Webland, the State government’s portal which helps one check his land holdings online. As adangals are tampered with, overnight the land gets transferred to others while the original owner remains unaware of what has happened.
From the beginning, the focus has been on who is involved in the scam rather than who had been cheated and how justice could be rendered to the victims. If Opposition raises Cain, it is expected of it but if a minister makes insinuations against his colleague, then it is clearly a case of trying to use the scam as a weapon against his adversary.
For R&B Minister Ch Ayyanna Patrudu, Vizag land scam has come in handy to assert himself and cut HRD Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao to size. Known for his short-temper, Ayyanna Patrudu when he flies off handle, he does not care if he is hurting even the Chief Minister. The entire bile has to come out of his system and apparently he believes this is the only way for him to assert himself and emerge as the only leader to call shots in Visakhapatnam.
On the other hand, Srinivasa Rao is very tactful and slippery like proverbial eel. When Ayyanna Patrudu made insinuations against him that “politicos” had played a role in the land scam, he knew what to do. He waited for some days for Ayyanna Patrudu to pipe down and when he did not, he dashed off a letter to the Chief Minister seeking CBI investigation into the muddle, while releasing copies of it to the media. He made allegations against Ayyanna Patrudu that he was lowering the image of the party by making allegations against him.
In any land scam, no politician would so naive to involve himself directly. He would remain a puppeteer and have his men do the work. In such case, there would be nothing to hold against any politician. In the present land scam too, it is common knowledge that even if SIT goes through the entire scam with a fine toothed comb for years, it would not get any evidence to nail any politician worth his salt.
At the party coordination committee meeting a couple of days ago, Naidu took the issue very seriously and constituted a three-member committee to find out why the differences were cropping up between the two leaders quite often and what could be done to iron them out. He did not approve of Ayynna Patrudu suggesting involvement of TDP leaders in the land scam and Srinivasa Rao for leaking the letter that has been sent to the Chief Minister seeking CBI probe. Naidu told them to bury the hatchet and work as a team.
Simultaneously, another drama went on in Kurnool where TDP leader Silpa Mohan Reddy remained intractable on his demand that he should be fielded as the party candidate in Nandyal bypoll. When Naidu did not budge, Mohan Reddy, after heaping allegations on TDP chief, left the party for Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRC.
After losing the election in 2014, he worked hard as party’s incharge of the constituency hoping that in the next election, he would be fielded by Naidu from there. With Tourism Minister Bhuma Akhila Priya, who joined the TDP from YSRC, putting her foot firmly down on fielding Mohan Reddy, who is arch rival to Bhuma family, a stalemate ensued. After the exit of Mohan Reddy, the TDP appears to have suffered to some extent.
Not very long ago just before Mahanadu in May, TDP lawmakers told the people what they actually are made of. In a free for all in Ongole where TDP MLC Karanam Balaramakrishna Murthy and YSRC-turned-TDP MLA Gottipati Ravi Kumar came to blows, ironically at TDP conclave - Mini-Mahanadu.
Naidu who was very angry with the developments, despatched a team of ministers to inquire into the incidents and report back to him. But the contents of the report were not made public.
The opposition criticised the decision as one intended to send out a message that the TDP leadership does not sit quiet and doing nothing but would take remedial measures.