‘Don’t I have fundamental rights’: Chandrababu Naidu stages sit-in protest inside Tirupati airport

‘Don’t I have fundamental rights’: Chandrababu Naidu stages sit-in protest inside Tirupati airport

Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu was detained at Tirupati airport by Renigunta Police while on his way to a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) protest on Monday. Visuals from the airport showed the TDP chief staging a brief sit-in protest at the airport’s arrival lounge after being denied entry into the temple town. Senior police officials were seen trying to placate a visibly upset Naidu.

“What is this? What is this… don’t I have fundamental rights to meet the collector? What is happening to this country? I worked for 14 years as chief minister. I am a leader of Opposition. What is this tamasha. Why did you detain me? You didn’t give me permission… I will sit right here,” Chandrababu Naidu was heard saying in the confrontation with the police.

Naidu later tweeted a video of the incident, saying “we will not be silenced”.

On Sunday, the Tirupati Municipal Corporation officials allegedly ransacked a tea stall belonging to a TDP leader, whose wife was contesting in the March 10 municipal elections.

The TDP accused the ruling YSR Congress of resorting to such pressure tactics to get opposition candidates to withdraw from the contest. To protest this, the TDP planned to organise a protest under Naidu’s leadership. However, local police had reportedly denied permission for the TDP to hold the protest, citing Covid-19 guidelines and Model Code of Conduct for the municipal polls.

The Tirupati and Chittoor police placed important TDP leaders of the district under house arrest ahead of Naidu’s visit, according to news agency PTI.

TDP politburo member Yanamala Ramakrishnudu strongly condemned the police action and said it further exposed the “draconian rule” of Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.

“Detention of the Opposition leader is nothing but trampling the civil liberties. Is there a rule of law in AP,” Ramakrishnudu said.

Incidentally, YSRCP chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy staged a similar protest at Visakhapatnam airport in 2017 before he became Chief Minister. Reddy squatted on the tarmac with other party leaders for nearly two hours before being sent back to Hyderabad. He was scheduled to take part in a candlelight march demanding special category status (SCS) for Andhra Pradesh.

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