Issue :   
April 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         April 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Apr' 2018


Naidu games in Andhra Pradesh

MS Shanker

The latest political posturing of Nara Chandrababu Naidu (NCN), TDP President and Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, pulling his two Ministers out of the NDA government, and opting for "No Confidence Motion" against the ally- turned - adversary at the Centre should not surprise political analysts. His admirers may describe his decision as "political sagacity" of the highest order. Others, especially his critics, term it as a political hara-kiri. His critics drub it as blatantly opportunistic.
With 2019 elections round the corner and his rival, Jaganmohan Reddy, (Jagan), YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), attracting crowds during his "Rathayatras/Padayatras" and raising the issue of "Special Category Status (SCS)", he has few options.Furthermore, cinemahero- turned politician Pawan Kalyan with his Jana Sena, is firing on all cylinders at him. He, too, is in the forefront of SCS demand though. Naidu has been working overtime to placate him and thus enlist his Kapu community's support for the TDP.
Anti-incumbency is a major concern for NCN. He has failed to fulfill pre-poll promises. No significant breakthrough in growth, development and welfare to trumpet in the rum up to 2019 ballot.Amaravati, the much acclaimed capital of Andhra Pradesh, remains on paper even after the Central allotment of Rs.
2500 crores for creation of essential infrastructure, despite nonsubmission of DPRs (Detailed Project Report) even after four years.
NCN government continues to operate from camp offices in Hyderabad and Vijayawada. Only for photo-ops, the Cabinet meets in temporary accommodation in Amaravati.
With the media hype over loss of Modi - BJP credibility in the wake of by-poll rout in UP, MP, Rajasthan and Bihar, NCN has begun to look to other alternatives to reclaim power.
Modi, Amit Shah, Arun Jaitley and BJP bashing offers the badly needed opening, besides the nebulous "Third Front" in the making. He doesn't want to drive the minorities – Christians and Muslims – away from the TDP.
His rollback of a tweet on Savarkar - "Humble tributes to the revolutionary freedom fighter Veer Sarvakar ji on his death anniversary",is a part of a calibrated effort to distance from the BJP and its pronounced Hindutva ideology
Put simply, NCN has reverted to the "blame game" politics to absolve his government and party of nonperformance. Of course, he is also out to deny the SCS plank to Jagan's YSRCP.

Jaganmohan Reddy and Pawan Kalyan It he and his party were committed to 'SCS' demand, why he had justified the 'special package' was offered to him soon after the polls? How can the BJP-led NDA or any other holy or unholy coalition grant "SCS" to Andhra Pradesh without first fulfilling longpending demands of six states - Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh for such a status as recommended by the Raghuram Rajan Committee?
What about Odisha? Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, made a strong pitch for special category status to his state at Niti Ayog meeting in New Delhi in April 2017. He is worried that several policy decisions of the Centre have largely offset the benefits from increased devolution of Central taxes to Odisha.
Granting "SCS" only to Andhra Pradesh is a virtual impossibility either for the Modi-led BJP-NDA Front, or the Rahul Gandhi-led Congress Party-UPA Front or the nebulous "Third Front" in the making.
Notwithstanding such a reality, NCN, Jaganmohan Reddy, Pawan Kalyan, and even Rahul Gandhi have been demanding "SCS" status now just to regain voters support in the forthcoming elections.
Political leaders without exception forget that "people may be fooled for some time evoking emotional issues; but not all the time for eternity." The key issue is simple. Credibility of parties – national and regional on the promises made while piloting the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act four years ago.
Be that as it may, the latest move by NCN needs to be viewed pragmatically based on his track record of vicious guiles and games over 40 years. He was elected as Congress MLA in 1978 at the age of 28 and became the youngest Minister.
Following his defeat in 1983 at the hands of a candidate of Telugu Desam floated by his father-in-law, N T Rama Rao, (NTR), he deserted the Congress, and started a new innings as the power behind the throne in the TDP.
Admittedly, NCN is a "wily politician par excellence". His critics, who are swelling in numbers, accuse him of thriving on blatant lies, false promises, half-truths, backstabbing, blackmailing, selective personal attacks and promoting "Aye Ram, Gaye Ram" politics. Ends justify means for him. Self predominates. Already his son, Nara Lokesh, a minister in the NCN govt, is waiting coronation as the next President of the TDP with the brood of NTR is sulking in the background.
Furthermore, people are no fools. They understand that commitment made by Dr. Manmohan Singh, as Prime Minister of the day, on the floor of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) to grant "SCS" after the passage of the AP Reorganization Bill 2014, was only to mollify their ruffled feelings; but nothing substantial.That was the principle reason why the Congress Party-led UPA did not include "SCS" in the AP Reorganization Bill 2014.
Be that as it may, the stakes are very high for the BJP. They had lost an opportunity by not going alone during the 2014 elections. They should remain vigilant to face the embarrassment of Naidu abandoning the NDA in case of any chance for the 'third alternative" emerging as a force to reckon with or if the BJP is humbled at the Karnataka polls in May 2018.
The BJP has the following options for the 2019 elections: go alone; pre-poll or post-poll alliance with whichever party – TDP or YSRCP – emerges as the largest party.
For the present, NCN has made his first move of what may be termed as "Abandoning Sinking Ship of BJP -led NDA". There is still time for the last ball in the political game being played out. Whether it will be a bouncer or googly, time alone will tell.