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Actor-turned-politician Kalyan putting TDP govt on defensive

Press Trust of India  |  Amaravati 

Telugu filmstar and Jana Sena Party president Pawan Kalyan is causing jitters to the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) even as it aims for an "opposition-free"

"Do not turn Tunduru into a Nandigram," Kalyan warned the government at yesterday as he expressed solidarity with the farmers and fishermen of Narsapuram division who were agitating against the Godavari Mega Aqua Food Park coming up in West Godavari district with financial support from the Centre.

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who usually remains indifferent to any issue raised by the Opposition, was forced to take "corrective action" after Kalyan backed the agitation.

He hurriedly convened an "unscheduled" meeting today with West Godavari Collector Katamaneni Bhaskar and the MLAs in the district to discuss the "fall-out" of the project and the "corrective steps" to be taken.

"If the food park causes pollution, we will certainly not allow it. But, we are taking steps to lay separate pipelines to let out the waste from the factories directly into the sea," the chief minister told the meeting.

He also asked the officials "not to hesitate" in taking action against the owners if environmental norms were violated.

A committee under the chairmanship of the Collector would be constituted to resolve the controversy, Naidu said.

Separately, state Agriculture Minister P Pulla Rao said the government would take Kalyan's suggestions "into consideration" before going ahead with the project.

This was not the first time Naidu had to swing into action to contain the damage after the Jana Sena Party chief raised an issue.

The government beat a hasty retreat after Kalyan expressed

solidarity with the villagers of the Amaravati region who opposed the "forcible" acquisition of over 1,800 acres of land for the new state capital.

Be it the Kapu reservation issue or the special category status for Andhra Pradesh, the Jana Sena Party chief's intervention pushed the government on the defensive.

Kalyan, known to be a maverick, cannot be ignored as he wields a considerable clout among certain sections of the state, political observers say.

The fact that he played a significant role in TDP's electoral victory in 2014 and the perception that he could as easily shatter the ruling party's ambitious dream of remaining in power for 20 years make Kalyan a formidable challenge.

Hence, is always seeking to keep him in good humour, according to political analysts.

First Published: Sun, October 16 2016. 18:42 IST