Kinjarapu Atchannaidu, Andhra Pradesh State president of the TDP, arrested on charges of criminal intimidation in the run-up to local body elections; Chandrababu Naidu accuses Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy of ‘vendetta politics’

Published : February 03, 2021 12:13 IST

Kinjarapu Atchannaidu, Andhra Pradesh State president TDP. A file photograph. Photo: V. RAJU


The continuing tension, controversies and shenanigans in the run-up to the forthcoming local body/gram panchayat elections in Andhra Pradesh hit yet another nadir on February 2 with the arrest of Kinjarapu Atchannaidu, the opposition Telugu Desam Party’s (TDP) State unit president and former Minister. The TDP leader was arrested by the Srikakulam police for allegedly intimidating a candidate supported by the ruling Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRC) and trying to prevent him from filing his nomination papers for the forthcoming panchayat elections.

Kinjarapu Atchannaidu has been accused, along with 21 others, for allegedly preventing K. Appanna, the YSRC candidate, from filing his nomination papers for the post of sarpanch in Nimmada village (Srikakulam district) which has traditionally been a TDP stronghold thanks to the Kinjarapu family and is facing a charge of criminal intimidation. After his arrest, Atchannaidu was taken to a court for obtaining a remand. The police disclosed to Frontline that 11 other TDP workers had already been arrested in the same intimidation case. An alleged telephonic conversation wherein Atchannaidu, who is incidentally closely related to Appanna, is heard threatening the latter, has also been leaked.

The sarpanch’s post in Nimmada has never been contested in previous elections over the past three decades as Atchannaidu and his late brother K. Yerrannaidu, former Union Minister and senior TDP leader who died in a road accident in November 2012, hail from the village. It is considered a family stronghold. However, backed with support from the ruling YSRC, Appanna, disregarding Atchannaidu’s telephonic appeal not to contest, went ahead and to file his nomination papers.

Police sources said that even while Appanna was filing his nomination papers, Atchannaidu’s brother K. Hari Prasad and other TDP leaders reached the spot and tried to stop him. A scuffle ensued between the two groups, with the TDP workers attempting to snatch away Appanna’s nomination papers. This led to a chaotic situation. Eventually, Appanna filed his nomination under heavy police presence. The police have registered cases against Atchannaidu, Hari Prasad and about 20 others under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including attempt to murder.

N. Chandrababu Naidu, TDP chief and Leader of the Opposition in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, has called Kinjarapu Atchannaidu’s arrest “the height of [Chief Minister] Jagan Mohan Reddy’s vendetta politics”. Condemning his deputy’s arrest, Chandrababu Naidu accused YSRC leaders of creating “a tense atmosphere in a village (Nimmada) that has remained peaceful for decades”. A statement from Chandrababu Naidu said: “It is YSRC leader Srinivas who went to Nimmada and fomented trouble. There are videos to show that it was the YSRC leader who created trouble in the village and not Atchannaidu. Instead of registering cases against Srinivas, the police have arrested Atchannaidu.”

Elections to the local bodies/panchayats have been mired in controversies. Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has tried, and failed, to have them postponed. The Chief Minister has had a running battle with the State Election Commission (SEC) and Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, the State Election Commissioner. It was only after the Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by the Andhra Pradesh government challenging the verdict of the Andhra Pradesh High Court allowing the SEC to conduct local body elections in February that the elections are going to be held as scheduled.

On the morning of February 2, Kommareddy Pattabhi, the TDP’s spokesperson, was attacked by unknown miscreants near his residence in Vijayawada. The motorcycle-borne miscreants attacked his car with iron rods, smashed its windshield, attacked him and his driver, and pelted stones at his residence before fleeing. Pattabhi escaped with minor injuries on his hands and legs. A bid by the TDP cadre, heeding a call by Chandrababu Naidu, to go to the Chief Minister’s residence and submit a petition seeking action against the miscreants was thwarted by the police. In other election-related violence, the husband of a candidate contesting for the post of sarpanch in East Godavari’s Gollalagunta village was found dead in suspicious circumstances on February 1.

The four-phase elections are being conducted between February 9 and 21, with results to be declared on the last day of polling.