Will Minister Akhilapriya claim moral responsibility for administrative lapses that caused the Vijayawada boat tragedy?
The events leading up to the boat tragedy in Vijayawada are now coming to light. It is known that the boat tried to pick up tourists from Durga Ghat, in a bid to profit from the Sunday tourist boom. The boat was stopped by an A. P. Tourism department official, saying the boat could neither be docked there nor could it pick up any tourists. He then requested the boat crew to leave the place, saying that they had sufficient boats to cater to the tourists. He also warned the crew that the boat would be forcibly removed if they did not comply. At this, the boat pilot removed the boat from Durga Ghat. Some time after this incident, the same boat picked up tourists from Bhavani Island and caused their deaths.
While the actual culprits who caused the accident due to their negligence are still to be brought to book, the tourism department and the A.P. government are being censured for not ensuring that the system was flawless. With preliminary investigations revealing a shocking lapse in the administrative machinery, the A.P. government has gone into defensive mode.
These are testing times for the Tourism Minister, Akhilapriya. She had already been subject to criticism when she was appointed as a Cabinet minister being a first-time MLA. This tragedy is a blot on her future political career. While there is no denying that she responded quite rapidly to the situation, critics are pointing out that her explanations about the tragedy are inaccurate. Ultimately, it will be Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu who will have to do damage control. Government cadres are now wondering if she will be subject to ‘action’ or will be exempted, considering she is a novice on probation.
History has examples of many leaders who stepped down from their positions claiming moral responsibility for omissions and commissions. A few examples of such leaders are Lal Bahadur Shastri, who created history by stepping down from Nehru’s Cabinet taking responsibility for a rail accident; Muddu Krishnama Naidu, who stepped down from NTR’s Cabinet because the Tenth class examination papers were leaked; and more recently, Suresh Prabhu, who resigned from the Modi Cabinet due to multiple railway accidents during his tenure. Will Akhilapriya, a political newcomer, take the risk of citing moral responsibility and stepping down? If she does, will CM Chandrababu Naidu allow it? This would be an opportunity to check YCP’s anger that Akhilapriya defected after winning on a YCP ticket and became a Cabinet minister. It remains to be seen what Akhilapriya will do in the aftermath of this tragedy and what the CM has planned for her.