The Andhra Pradesh unit of the BJP has boycotted Telugu news channel ABN Andhra Jyothy and its vernacular sister daily Andhra Jyothy, alleging that these two are working as a “Telugu Desam Party (TDP) pamphlet”.
“BJP has decided to boycott ABN TV and Andhra Jyothy, which have been working as a TDP pamphlet and in complete negation of media standards and moral values,” alleged BJP state office secretary P. Srinivas Rao.
This move from the state branch of the national party comes at a time when its general secretary Vishnu Vardhan Reddy was assaulted with a slipper by a fellow TV panelist and Amravati activist Kolikapudi Srinivasa Rao on Tuesday night on an ABN Andhra Jyothi debate.
Following the incident, the news channel invited Rao again on Wednesday and interviewed him, which incensed the BJP.
“It is a shame that the ABN TV channel has allowed a TDP sympathiser to viciously attack BJP state general secretary Vishnu Vardhan Reddy after inviting him to a discussion programme. Instead of registering a case against the attacker for his criminal conduct, ABN TV again invited the attacker to the discussion to protect the interests of TDP and gave it a clean chit for the ugly episode,” alleged P. Srinivas Rao.
Further, P. Srinivas Rao said the party has also decided to shun the news channel and its sister daily and alleged that both the entities are working under the guise of media to protect the interests of TDP.
“From now onwards, BJP representatives will not attend any debates on ABN TV and the party will not invite ABN group to the party’s press conferences,” said the party state office secretary.
However, if the media house invites anybody in violation and peddles their interviews as BJP’s voice, he said the party will initiate legal and other “appropriate” action against ABN.
“The boycott will have immediate effect and will continue until the Andhra Jyothy management unconditionally apologises to the Andhra Pradesh BJP,” added P. Srinivas Rao.
Meanwhile, V. Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs alleged that TDP supremo Nara Chandrababu Naidu and his party have stooped to a new low, including their leaders losing civility and decency.
“The ‘chappal’ attack on BJP leader Reddy on a live TV debate is deplorable. Condemn the attack strongly. This new political culture of TDP must be opposed by all,” said Muraleedharan.
Echoing him, BJP national secretary and AP co-incharge Sunil Deodhar has also condemned the slipper attack.
“I strongly condemn the ‘chappal’ attack on BJP leader Reddy by a TDP goon during an ABN TV debate. Naidu you have stooped to such low level politics by sending paid dummies. Feel ashamed of you destroying the great Telugu culture by doing such gutter politics,” said Deodhar.
Other senior BJP leaders such as G.V.L. Narasimha Rao and Somu Veerraju have also condemned the attack.
The TDP has issued a fact check statement replying to Deodhar’s criticism and clarified that Kolikapudi Srinivas is not an official representative of TDP and he did not participate in the debate on behalf of the principal opposition party in AP.
Kolikapudi Srinivas has been protesting the trifurcation of the capital city into three and got enraged when Reddy called him a “paid artist” as BJP alleges that those opposing the trifurcation do so as the land value in Amaravati region will plummet.
When IANS contacted the debate moderator on ABN Andhra Jyothy, Venkata Krishna, for his views on BJP’s allegations, he responded cryptically, “We are not willing to respond.”