Three people have died in a stampede at a rally of former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district. This is the second occasion in a span of four days when people lost their lives at programmes of Mr Naidu, who has been holding a series of political meetings across the state in preparation for the 2024 assembly elections in the state.
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy expressed shock over the stampede in Guntur. The officials have been directed to provide all possible medical assistance to the injured. Mr Reddy has assured government support to the families.
On Wednesday, eight people — one of them a woman — died in a near-stampede in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh during a roadshow by the former Chief Minister. Several people fell in an open canal as locals in Kandukur waited for a glimpse of Mr Naidu, who was coming there for a roadshow.
Mr Naidu immediately cancelled the meeting and announced a compensation of Rs 24 lakh to the families who have lost their loved ones.
“This is a sad incident. I’m feeling very sorry about it,” he had said. “We will provide financial assistance, medical treatment to the injured and support the education of children,” he added.
He, however, has been severely criticised by the ruling YSR Congress, which called it “fake publicity”.
Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has blamed the Telugu Desam Party chief for the deaths, saying his “publicity mania” caused the tragedy, and demanded an immediate and public apology.
Mr Reddy’s party has been under pressure since Mr Naidu had stepped up the pace of his rallies and political meetings. The massive crowds at his programmes are seen as an indication of the resurgence of the TDP, which faced a crushing defeat before the YSR Congress in 2019.
Mr Naidu has said the 2024 elections will be his last if people do not elect his party back to power.
Mr Naidu’s son, Nara Lokesh, will soon start a foot march that’s expected to be a youth platform. The 400-day march, which will cover more than 4,000 km, begins from January 27.