Protests were organised in several parts of Andhra Pradesh on Saturday against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Guntur, scheduled for Sunday. Workers of the ruling Telugu Desam Party, the Congress, Left parties, student groups and organisations which favour special category status for Andhra Pradesh organised demonstrations in 13 districts, IANS reported.
The protestors chanted “Modi go back!”. They also carried black flags and staged sit-in protests in many places. Posters have come up across Guntur city with the slogan “Modi go back” and “Modi no entry”, News18 reported.
In a teleconference with party workers on Saturday, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu called Modi’s visit a “black day” for the people of the state, and asked the cadre to protest against the visit, the Hindustan Times reported. “If he sets his foot in our home state, our soil will become unholy as he is a betrayer, belying his own assurances given to our bifurcated state such as special category status,” Naidu claimed.
The Telugu Desam Party quit the National Democratic Alliance in March 2018 over the Centre’s failure to grant Andhra Pradesh special category status.
Andhra Pradesh BJP chief Kanna Lakshminarayana said the Telugu Desam Party was creating hurdles for the programme, but will not be able to stop it. “You are doing all this only out of fear,” he said.
But Telugu Desam Party spokesperson Panchumarthy Anuradha dismissed this allegation, saying there was no question of “creating hurdles” as the state government had given permission for Modi’s rally.
BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao claimed the party was ready to face any kind of challenge, News18 reported. “We have given many things to this state,” he said. “The TDP is unnecessarily blaming and doing political drama.”
An unidentified senior party leader told The Indian Express that the BJP hopes at least 2,000 farmers will attend the rally. “The front row is reserved for VIPs,” he said. “The second row will be for farmers and women leaders. We hope at least 2,000 farmers will use this opportunity to get a seat which is close to the stage.”
Communist Party of India (Marxist) P Madhu said party workers will protest with empty pots. This is a reference to Modi attending the foundation stone-laying ceremony of Amaravati city last year, carrying a pot of soil and water. “He has gone back on every promise he made,” Madhu alleged.
Andhra Pradesh Congress chief Raghuveera Reddy said the protest against the prime minister will be peaceful. “Those who not participate will be considered to be against people’s welfare,” he warned.
Security has been tightened in Guntur ahead of the event, with Special Protection Group personnel coordinating with the Andhra Pradesh Police.
Meanwhile, #GoBackModi and #GoBackSadistModi were among the top 10 Twitter trends in India on Sunday morning.