Bitter row breaks out in Andhra over statues

The political unrest hardly comes as a surprise given that in a state like AP, installation of life-size statues of popular leaders symbolize a sense of political assertion.



By P S Jayaram

Published: Sun 15 Feb 2015, 11:49 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:44 PM

Hyderabad — The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government in Andhra Pradesh has ruffled the opposition feathers with its recent decision to remove unauthorized statues of political leaders in various cities and towns of the state.

The political unrest hardly comes as a surprise given that in a state like AP,  installation of life-size statues of popular leaders symbolize a sense of political assertion. The TDP government’s recent orders to municipal authorities to remove from public places all the unauthorised statues of politicians and other prominent figures sparked a furore with the opposition YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) alleging that the move was directed against the statues of former chief minister late Y S Rajasekhar Reddy.

“We dare the government to touch the statues of our leader. We will resist any such attempts to erase the memory of YSR,” warned the spokesman of YSRCP Ambati Rambabu.

In the run-up to the Assembly elections last year, the TDP had warned that it would order removal of YSR’s statues if voted to power. The government recently issued instructions to the district authorities to remove within a fortnight all the statues, flexi-boards and banners of prominent political personalities occupying roads, parks and other public spaces.

“This is clearly designed to remove YSR’s statues out of political vendetta,” Rambabu alleged.

The YSRCP had erected hundreds of statues of YSR across the state after his tragic death in a helicopter crash in September 2009.  YSR’s son and Party president Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy had unveiled these statues during the “Odarpu Yatra” (Consolation March) to console the families of those who died of shock or committed suicide following YSR’s death. According to rough estimates, over 20,000 statues of YSR were installed by the party supporters across the state.

The TDP leaders argued that this was illegal and unacceptable. “The YSRCP bulldozed its way and erected the statues right in the middle of the roads causing severe inconvenience to people,” points out Finance Minister and senior TDP leader Yanamala Ramakrishnudu.

However, YSRCP leaders claim that the statues were erected by the people by pooling contributions and necessary permissions were taken from local authorities. “In some cases, private lands were donated by the owners because of their love and affection for YSR,” the party spokesman said.

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