Somersaults are not new to Naidu, and political contradictions are his way of life. Where power and money are the prime criteria for him. By trying to project Modi and BJP as not trustworthy, he stands exposed
Dr Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao
The defeat of Chandrababu Naidu led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) sponsored the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha is a rejection of Chandrababu brand of cynical politics. Not only did Chandrababu Naidu fail to get any mileage but also his entire effort boomeranged with the loss of face not only for the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh but also to the people who ganged up with him with the anticipation that self-proclaimed four-decade-old political experience of Naidu will come to their rescue.
The stated motive for moving the no-confidence motion by TDP was the demand for the special category status (SCS) to Andhra Pradesh. Naidu wanted to make it a national issue and project himself as an alternative leader for Opposition bandwagon. His failure on both the counts was evident when no other party on the floor of the house seriously spoke on the SCS to Andhra Pradesh. In fact, the Congress which is the main villain for pushing Andhra Pradesh to dire financial status, through the unscientific and irrational division of Andhra Pradesh has not even argued on behalf of Andhra for the fear that their original sin will come out into the open. Congress President Rahul Gandhi just appreciated the speech of a TDP MP and beyond that he spoke not a single word on the Andhra though it was the state issue which gave him an hour time to speak. The other parties also made their political speeches to cater to their core constituencies.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP through its MP from Andhra Pradesh have exposed Chandrababu brand’s negative politics and explained to the nation the factual position regarding the SCS position to Andhra Pradesh. Chandrababu Naidu was an ally of the BJP till the March this year. He was taken into confidence by the Modi Government and was informed why the Centre is not in a position to give SCS to Andhra Pradesh even though it has the mind to do so. The recommendation of the 14th Financial Commission to do away the SCS was shown to Chandrababu Naidu. As Chandrababu himself announced in the Andhra Pradesh assembly the State Government agreed to the special package for Andhra Pradesh in place of SCS. Chandrababu Naidu was consistently chiding the Opposition parties in the state for still demanding the non-existing SCS status and explained to the people during the debate in the state assembly on the advantag of the special package as offered by the Modi Government. A resolution congratulating the Centre for offering the special package and thanking Prime Minister Modi for the keen interest shown towards AP is there on the official records. As announced, through the special package, the State Government has started receiving funds in every possible way, and in fact, people of Andhra Pradesh are happy at the way the Modi Government cares for them.
As Hari Babu, the MP from Andhra Pradesh explained during the no-confidence debate, 85 per cent of the promises made in the division Act were fulfilled. The other 15 per cent of the pledges are under active consideration of the Union Government. These promises were all made within four years though the Act gave ten year time to fulfill them. That was the commitment and sincerity of the Modi Government towards the state of Andhra Pradesh.
In fact, Chandrababu Naidu was also happy with what Modi government is doing to Andhra, and that was reflected in his statements both inside the State Assembly and outside. Chandrababu himself claimed that “no other state in independent India ever got so much assistance from the Centre in such short time.” He even challenged opposition “to prove him wrong.” Then TDP representative in the Modi cabinet Mr. Sujana Choudary has stated that “the Centre has given everything to the state and there is nothing more to demand from them.” Those were the statement made in January 2017 on the eve of Republic day.
It is a fact that Andhra Pradesh, post-bifurcation, became a revenue deficit State. And the intellectuals in the State started pointing out that it was his Hyderabad centric development which had led to this sorry state of coastal and Rayalaseema regions. It was Congress and TDP which ruled Andhra Pradesh since 1956, and it was their step-motherly treatment towards these areas which left them underdeveloped. If at all anyone has to be blamed for revenue deficit, it is Chandrababu Naidu and Rajasekhara Reddy and other Congress CMs and not the BJP.
In 2014 people of Andhra elected Chandrababu with great hope. But under his leadership AP turned out to be highly corrupt, favouring specific contractors and siphoning substantial kickbacks. Polavaram project is a classic example of the tactics of Chandrababu. He escalates the estimates by several times and demands money from Centre as per his estimations without verification and auditing. The CAG has shown the misuse of funds in Pattiseema project and also other developmental projects. Instead of answering to the questions of CAG, a constitutional body, Chandrababu chose a political fight to blame the BJP and Modi as unhelpful partners. He even commissioned his pet publication to run a serial on the psychology of Narendra Modi and project him as a vindictive, unfriendly, habitual cheater in the eyes of Andhra people.
Chandrababu’s dream capital Amaravati is a flop show, and netizens poke and joke it as a ‘graphic city’ which is visible on the computer screen and not on the ground. Even after four years, Chandrababu could not finalise the designs for Raj Bhavan, High Court, etc. The temporary capital which he built at a considerable cost is structurally so weak that it leaks at every rain and soaks the offices. But still, Chandrababu Naidu dares to submit the utilisation certificates for the capital city to a tune of over 1,000 crore without even laying a foundation stone.
In these four years rule, Chandrababu Naidu reportedly borrowed over one lakh crore from various organisations thus increasing the debt burden of the state without any actual development and progress. It was more hype and less on fact. As Pavan Kalyan, a cine hero turned politician, started criticising corruption under his regime and questioning his heir apparent Lokesh’s role in bribery and collections, Chandrababu became panicky. To divert the attention from the public, he chose the way to attack Modi personally and target the BJP as the villain and gain the sympathy of the people.
Having failed in all fronts to turn the situation to his advantage, Chandrababu finally used the no-confidence weapon hoping every other party will stand behind him. That gamble has also failed, and he is left alone not only at the state level where all the political parties expressed their no confidence in his leadership by boycotting the all-party meeting he called, but even the other regional parties left him alone as his negative politics became so evident and such a negativism of Naidu is likely to hit him too in the long run.
It is this loss of face and lack of support from other political parties which made Chandrababu Naidu rush to Delhi, the day after his political gamble failed in Lok Sabha, to personally meet the national media and explain his stand. There also Chandrababu Naidu got the rebuff as the national media has not given the coverage to Chandrababu Naidu’s effort.
It is the sorry state in which Chandrababu Naidu pulled himself. But unfortunately he is pulling down the people of Andhra, and that is the tragedy. At every stage, either before the bifurcation or after the bifurcation Chandrababu made every move for his political advantage and not for the people of Andhra Pradesh. Sane advises given by the senior colleagues, political friends including Modi were ignored as Chandrababu’s focus was on winning 2019 elections and install his son Lokesh in the CM chair and establish hereditary politics following the footsteps of Congress in which party he took birth and initially grew.
Chandrababu is the one who supported united Andhra Pradesh when Jai Andhra movement was going on in 1972; it is the same Naidu who supported Emergency when illegal detentions were happening and stood beside Sanjay Gandhi then. It is the same Naidu who opposed NTR when he came out with “Andhrula Aatmagouravam”(Pride of Andhra) slogan and promised to Indira Gandhi to fight against his father in law NTR and defeat him. It is the same Naidu who shamelessly shifted to TDP after 1983 defeat of Congress and then backstabbed NTR to capture the party and power in 1994. It is the same Naidu who said he would arrest the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi if he ventures to enter Hyderabad in 2002. It is the same Naidu who pressurised the BJP to go for early elections in 2004 and then declared not to have any connection with the BJP after his 2004 loss of power.
Somersaults are not new to Naidu, and political contradictions are his way of life. Power and money are the prime criteria for him and long-term friendship is unknown to him. One can’t win with gimmicks, and at some stage, a suitable checkmate will stare on the face, and this is the reality for Chandrababu Naidu. By trying to project Modi and the BJP as not trustworthy, he stands exposed.
(The writer is Vijayawada based freelance contributor)