18-08-201918-08-2019 10:51:23 IST
Updated On 18-08-2019 11:03:23 ISTUpdated On 18-08-20192019-08-18T05:21:23.543Z18-08-2019 2019-08-18T05:19:31.698Z - 2019-08-18T05:33:23.127Z - 18-08-2019
Unprecedented inflows into the Krishna river, for the first time in 10 years from upstream states, have deluged large parts of Krishna and Guntur districts in Andhra Pradesh. While the state official machinery is grappling with relief and rehabilitation of the flood victims, politics seem to be centered more around TDP president and former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu’s ‘illegal’ residence on the river bank in Amaravati.
The guesthouse, originally owned by Naidu’s aide Lingamaneni Ramesh and currently housing the TDP chief, has been facing a serious threat of inundation. Reports suggest that flood waters have already entered the controversial residential complex. The ‘walkway’ built into the river is under submergence while the ‘river-view’ house part of the premises is severely flooded.
This prompted the local village revenue officer (VRO) to serve an ‘urgent notice’ on the inmates to vacate the premises immediately to pre-empt any possible loss of life. Naidu’s residence is among the 32 premises where structures were ‘illegally constructed close to the river bund’ and perilously close to being submerged in the unabated flooding.
Chandrababu Naidu and his family have moved over to their safer Hyderabad residence several days ago, soon after the first flood alarm was raised due to heavy inflows to river Krishna from upstream Maharashtra and Karnataka.
At a time politicians were expected to come together to focus more on the hardships of the flood victims in the state, leaders of the TDP and the ruling YSRCP have locked horns in an ugly war of words. The TDP is taking offence to what it calls the unnecessary exuberance of the YSRCP leaders to ‘keep a close watch’ on Naidu’s house, especially in the absence of his family.
They raised a hue and cry over the ‘surveillance' of the controversial premises with drone cameras, which they alleged was happening at the behest of the Chief Minister’s Office. The TDP men unabashedly accused the YS Jaganmohan Reddy government of deliberately causing inundation of Naidu’s residential premises by initially delaying the release of floodwaters.
Naidu’s son and TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh was even more scathing in his tweets to allege that a few boats were used to intentionally deflect the flood waters into their house. His bizarre accusation comes at a time when the furious floodwaters running into several millions of cusecs in the last few days have left larger parts of Krishna and Guntur districts under a sheet of water.
Surprisingly, even after the entire episode grabbing all the eyeballs, Chandrababu Naidu appears to be in no mood to ‘give up’ the Lingamaneni guesthouse. So far, there are no indications of any plans to move out. On the contrary, the prevailing mood in the TDP rank and file only suggests that the former chief minister will be more interested in getting it refurbished for future use rather than moving into a safer option.
One is yet to hear from the TDP supremo himself on this issue. But this only raises questions besides sparking off speculation as to what makes it compulsive for Naidu and family to stay put in the house even after the nature’s fury has exposed the dangerous fallout of constructing houses on the river bank and living in them.
There is a great deal of ambiguity in the public domain on the ownership of the house. Lingamaneni Ramesh, the original owner of the illegal guesthouse, was reported to have stated long back that he no more has the ownership rights as ‘it was acquired by the state government’. Chandrababu Naidu has asserted right on the floor of the Assembly that it is a rented property and he is living there as a tenant.
Interestingly, the YSRCP government during its drive against the illegal constructions on the river bank, has issued the notice to the house in the name of Lingamaneni Ramesh, only compounding the confusion on ‘who really owns’ this controversial residential premises.
Now that Chandrababu Naidu only seems to be more inclined to getting the house cleaned up once the flood recedes, it is evident that he is determined not to ‘give up his tenancy’ so soon and so easily. But more questions will be asked of Naidu if he indeed prefers to do this. What is it that is so important for Naidu and family to ‘cling on’ to an illegally-constructed house even braving the risk of flooding will be the point of debate in the coming days.
Against this backdrop, only two sources can solve the mystery on ‘who really owns this house’: One is Naidu, who claims to be the tenant, and the other is the state government which will be in the best position to set the ‘record straight’ on this issue. But the question is, will they ever speak out..!
-Durga Prasad Kanamaluru
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