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A Corporate Theft and Crime Thriller That Gave Andhra Pradesh Poll Campaign a Big Push

By: Rishika Sadam

CNN-News18

Last Updated: March 18, 2019, 20:42 IST

A Corporate Theft and Crime Thriller That Gave Andhra Pradesh Poll Campaign a Big Push

Earlier this month, the Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) came under scanner for allegedly misusing personal and sensitive citizen information from government database to profile voters.

Hyderabad: With less than a month to go for the generals elections, leaders of political parties across the country have kicked off their campaigns and are in full poll-mode.

But a case of data theft and a murder mystery have given the election fever in Andhra Pradesh an extra boost. Chief minister Chandrababu Naidu and key opposition leader YS Jaganmohan Reddy have always been at loggerheads.

While chief minister has made sure to adequately highlight the government’s welfare schemes, Reddy has also been canvassing for months now and banking on the incumbency factor.

Even as most people were expecting these to be the pattern during campaigns to attract voters, the two cases in the state have changed the plot.

Earlier this month, the Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) came under scanner for allegedly misusing personal and sensitive citizen information from government database to profile voters.

A whistleblower, who filed a complaint in Hyderabad, has alleged that TDP further used the information to delete a massive number of voters from constituencies dominated by rival parties.

After an initial investigation, the Telangana Police had also said the company which developed the app for the purpose had access to government data.

As expected, both the leaders kept the issue in focus for the next one-and-a-half-week with Reddy addressing public gatherings during the day, followed by Naidu’s late-night press conferences.

The narrative of the election did change from welfare schemes to scams that both the parties accused each other of.

Last week, Reddy’s uncle and former minister Vivekananda Reddy was found murdered at his residence.

The opposition party immediately blamed TDP for the killing. While a special investigation team has been formed to look into the case, YSRC has been demanding a CBI probe alleging lack of transparency in state departments.

The death which was reported happened early in the day was initially assumed to be a case of heart attack. A preliminary examination, late afternoon, revealed that it was a murder. A few hours later, Reddy told reporters that Naidu’s party was behind the crime.

“It began to seem like a crime thriller. That way it started engaging people and their interests peaked up,” Nagesh Kumar, a political analyst, told News18.

The very next day, Naidu who started his campaign, spent the first 25 minutes of his speech explaining the timeline of the crime and said the slain leader’s family appeared “prima facie guilty as they not only tried to hide the murder but also destroyed vital forensic evidence”.

However, analysts said the issues might not be able to hold attention for a longer period of time.

They could be a boost to the campaign, but will not be a dominating factor in changing the entire narrative or will have a significant influence on voters.

“It took a lot of time for people to understand the complicated data breach issue. And, now, this murder. Initially it might be interesting, but there is no political capital in it,” Kumar told News18.