The arrest of TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu on corruption charges has exacerbated widening fault lines between the former Andhra Pradesh chief minister and his successor YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in the run-up to the crucial state assembly and Lok Sabha polls. In an interview with Saubhadra Chatterji, TDP leader and Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh talks about the current crisis and how his party plans to overcome it. Edited excerpts:
How do you see your father’s arrest? How does your party plan to use it ahead of the crucial elections?
As the state government has come with an absolute majority, you will see absolute corruption and corrupt people sending honest people to jail. The TDP will fight against the Andhra Pradesh government through a door-to-door campaign.
…A person who has built his character with credibility is today imprisoned over a false accusation on a false pretext.
A few weeks back, Naidu had praised PM Narendra Modi and wanted to meet Union home minister Amit Shah. Yet no one from the BJP top brass has commented on his arrest. What is TDP’s relationship with the BJP?
There is no relationship with the BJP. The TDP and the Jana Sena Party [led by actor-politician Pawan Kalyan] have come together to fight against the government.
Did your party approach the BJP for help?
Chandrababu Naidu has praised everyone who worked in the national interest. Our support has been on issues — if we believe a bill is right, we support it. That is why we supported the current dispensation.
Do you see the opposition INDIA bloc, TDP and Pawan Kaylan coming together?
This is very speculative.
Mamata Banerjee and Akhilesh Yadav, both from INDIA bloc, have condemned action against your father…
[HD] Kumaraswamy, Rajnikanth, and other have also stood by us and we thank them.
State CID has indicated that you, too, are under its scanner. Your comment
I am here, I haven’t committed any crime. If tomorrow they arrest me, I will be fine. the fight will not stop.
Will the TDP be able to withstand this pressure?
These crises are not new for the party. [Former PM] Indira Gandhi tried to destroy the TDP, but we bounced back. We were out of power for 10 years, but we again bounced back. We are a cadre-driven party and the cadre has strongly stood by Naidu. No leader has either moved or doubted his incorruptibility. So, nothing will happen…
You have announced that your party will take up Naidu’s arrest during the upcoming special session of Parliament. Will you seek the support of opposition parties for a consolidated effort?
Naidu is the recent victim, but he is not the only one. We will speak not only for him but all other victims of atrocities of this (state) government… We will sit with the cadre and decide.