The arrest of evangelist KA Paul, whose political outfit — Praja Shanthi Party is contesting for 18 Assembly seats in the ensuing by-polls, surprised many.
The reason for this is that the murder case for which he was accused dates back to January 2010 and the arrest took place after two years of the incident. Paul himself alleged that he was being arrested at the behest of CM N Kiran Kumar Reddy and YSR Congress president YS Jagan. He claims both the CM and Jagan are scared of his party’s electoral prospects during the bypoll scheduled to be held on June 12 next month. Paul was expected to win a chunk of Christian votes which would hit both the Congress and YSRC, the two parties commanding most of the community votes.
The main Opposition, Telugu Desam Party, which is contesting for the 18 Assembly and one Parliamentary seat has openly said that the arrest was done at the behest of the Congress leaders as it did not want to lose the elections.
“Congress party and its leaders are known for their opportunism. They can go to any extent to win this election. I think Paul’s arrest is also part of it,” TDP senior leader K Balaramakrishna Murthy told Postnoon on Monday morning from Ongole where Paul was arrested.
Murthy said that Paul’s party can be a spoilsport for political parties in the bypoll where every vote matters. “His party can take some votes as he has followers everywhere. Even if his party gets about 1,000 votes, it can be a disaster for political parties,” Murthy added.
However, when Postnoon quizzed ruling Congress spokesperson N Tulasi Reddy , he rubbished the TDP claim and denied reports of political motive behind the arrest of KA Paul. Reddy said that Paul’s arrest was the law’s job. “Is he worthy of being talked about?” Reddy wanted to know. “Paul can’t dent the prospects of our party,” Reddy insisted.
The Congress leader compared Paul’s arrest to the arraigning of Bhanu, the alleged killer of faction leader from Anantapur district, Suryanarayana Reddy. “Look at the notorious criminal Bhanu. He was arrested after a gap of over a year. Same can be applied to Paul also. The police must have come across a strong evidence against him and arrested him,” he said.
But political analysts feel that the strength of KA Paul, being a preacher, can’t be underestimated.
“Paul belongs to Kapu community, a reckoning force in the bypoll bound areas. He also has a following among Christians, Political observers feel that this would definitely have impact on mainstream political parties. Paul is a preacher and as a preacher he has created his own set of followers. These followers would vote for him for the sake their love,” political analyst J Tirupathi Chari said.