(Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP)
(Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP)

Hyderabad: Deviating from core issues of governance, the political discourse in the run-up to the general election is getting increasingly personalised and abusive. On Sunday, it was PM Modi who fired the first salvo, accusing Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu of betraying everybody from political allies to members of his own family.

“Why does he (Chandrababu Naidu) often claim that he is senior to me? Yes, he is senior to me in things like switching sides, forming new alliances and “backstabbing” his seniors — just like he deceived his father-in-law (NT Rama Rao),” Modi said at a rally in Guntur.

The allusion to NTR rubbed the chief minister on the wrong side. “I don’t usually make personal attacks, but Modi is forcing me to do so with his comments. He speaks about bringing about a triple talaq law to help Muslim women abandoned by their husbands, but he has no answer if anybody asks him about his own wife, Jashodaben,” Naidu said.

The Chief Minister also took exception to PM Modi hinting that his son, Nara Lokesh, was being given more prominence in the TDP. “Since you have referred to my son, I am mentioning your wife. People, do you know Narendra Modi has a wife? Her name is Jashodaben,” Naidu told a public meeting at Vijayawada.

Then, he quipped, ‘‘Yes, I am proud to be Lokesh’s dad. I have always promoted family values, but as Modi has no family, he will not understand them.” Although Naidu was in Vijayawada at the time of PM Modi’s arrival, he did not receive him at the airport, as protocol demands. The chief minister also questioned the Prime Minister’s penchant for wearing expensive clothes that “cost up to one crore rupees”. PM Modi also slammed the TDP chief for joining hands with the Congress, which he said was a betrayal of Naidu’s father-in-law and TDP founder, NT Rama Rao.

“Naidu had said he would follow in NTR’s footsteps, but is he really doing so? NTR had fought for a Congress-free India. Mukt- Congress has now become dost Congress.” Rejecting the charge, Naidu said he need not learn morality from someone who has not shown any respect to his political guru, LK Advani. Naidu, who had earlier welcomed demonetisation when it was announced on November 8, 2016, now called it a “mad Tughlaq act”.

“They scrapped Rs 1000 currency note but brought in Rs 2000 note. How will corruption end?” he asked. PM Modi was greeted by TDP, Congress and Left activists waving banners of “No More Modi” and “Modi Never Again” upon his arrival in Andhra Pradesh. Black flags and balloons were also hoisted while the Prime Minister’s convoy was on its way to the venue of the rally in Guntur. His effigies were set afire in some places.

“Modi’s Andhra Pradesh tour is an utter flop. The BJP should realise that people are registering their protest against his betrayal of Andhra Pradesh by not attending his rallies,” Mr Naidu said. The TDP and other opposition parties accuse the Narendra Modi government of going back on a long-awaited promise of providing special state status to Andhra Pradesh

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