Political temperature shot up in Andhra Pradesh after the main opposition TDP’s headquarters and the residence of its spokesperson were attacked on Tuesday by YSRC supporters. The vandalism was shocking since no such attack had taken place on a party’s main office in recent memory in the state. In hindsight, it was perhaps waiting to happen. Ever since the YSRC came to power in 2019, the war of words between the TDP and the ruling party has been intensifying and touching a new low with alarming frequency.
The trigger for the assault on the TDP office and its spokesman’s house was the uncharitable and abusive language used by the latter against YSRC chief and Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy. The language was not only provocative but also indecent. It cannot, however, be an excuse for violence. No side appears to realise that this is a slippery slope.
The ruling party has been pointing fingers at the opposition leaders for acting as agent provocateurs while the TDP leaders are accusing the government of seeking to terrorise political opponents. Not that sharp political rhetoric, allegations and even political violence is new to the state. What is different now is that unsavoury political discourse has become the norm rather than the exception.
Political violence could well become regular too. The main reason for this is the bitter rivalry between the ruling and opposition parties. What ought to be a normal political rivalry in a healthy democracy has transformed into something personal between the leaders of the two sides. It is high time the leaders introspect and rein in their colleagues and cadre. Else, there is a possibility of the state going back several decades, when violence was a part and parcel of politics.
The latest episode also highlights the difficult job of the police. Though no one was seriously injured, the police drew flak for failing to thwart the attacks. It is unfortunate that the department is faced with this situation at a time when it is observing the Police Commemoration Day. Hundreds of police personnel died in harness during the first and second Covid waves and thousands were affected. Yes, the police and intelligence failure is glaring but what about politicians?