A huge crowd came out on the streets in Andhra Pradesh’s capital Amaravati on Monday to welcome former Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party leader N Chandrababu Naidu as he returned to the city after two months amid the nationwide lockdown to control the coronavirus.
Naidu, who had been staying at his residence in Hyderabad since the imposition of the lockdown, reached his home in Amaravati on Monday afternoon. The TDP leader was seen wearing a mask and stepping out of his car to greet his supporters.
The gathering triggered a political blame-game in the state as Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party accused Naidu of breaking physical distancing norms and demanded that he be placed under quarantine.
YSR Congress leader Gadikota Srikanth Reddy alleged that Naidu took out a rally in direct violation of lockdown norms. “The whole country is following lockdown till May 31 and everybody is maintaining social distancing and following other guidelines linked to COVID-19,” Reddy was quoted as saying by ANI. “However, Chandrababu Naidu took out a rally from Hyderabad where hundreds gathered, garlanded him without using masks. How could he do so being a senior politician? He should apologise.”
Reddy added that Naidu must be placed under quarantine since he came to Amaravati from Hyderabad – a red zone. “Chandrababu Naidu, however, is trying to politicise the situation,” he said. “He was playing politics through the Zoom app while he was in Hyderabad and suddenly he came in a big convoy. He should be quarantined as he has crossed a state border.”
Naidu’s party, meanwhile, denied allegations that the gathering of people had been planned in advance. “Chandrababu Naidu himself told party cadres not to come and welcome him,” TDP leader K Pattabhiram told the news agency. But some of our party cadres came to greet him. It was a spontaneous response.”
Naidu was scheduled to fly from Hyderabad to Vizag to visit the areas affected by the LG Polymers gas leak, before going to Amaravati by road, according to The News Minute. Since the resumption of flights in the state was postponed to Tuesday, he cancelled his visit and went to Amaravati directly.
Andhra Pradesh has reported over 3,000 cases of the coronavirus and 56 deaths, according to data from the Union health ministry.