Some folks believe Friday the 13th to be inauspicious. Going forward, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu may have similar sentiments attached to Friday the 15th after what occurred ahead of the Assembly and Lok Sabha election.
The events of Friday (the notorious March 15) in Andhra Pradesh have the potential to upset all of Chandrababu Naidu’s political calculations for the future.
First, YS Vivekananda Reddy, the brother of former Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, was murdered in the eternal conflict-ridden area of Pulivendula. Then, the maverick politician Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party (JSP) aligned with the BSP.
YS Jaganmohan Reddy, the leader of the YSRCP (YSR Congress Party), has been quick to allege that his uncle's murder was orchestrated by the TDP. Of course, it is still an allegation, but there seems to be plenty of takers for the charge and the TDP is apparently on the backfoot regarding the issue.
And the JSP, which had supported (along with the BJP) the TDP in the previous elections, in alliance with the BSP would mean the TDP would lose a bulk of Dalit votes.
As the election dates get near, it looks like the TDP's chances are waning. The State is facing simultaneous polls (for Assembly and Lok Sabha), and Naidu is facing the heat on both fronts. At the State level, the momentum seems to be with his arch rival YS Jaganmohan Reddy. And for the general election, TDP's alliance with the Congress in Andhra Pradesh came unglued in the drawing board stage.
The tie-up with the Congress for the Telangana polls late last year would seem to be the biggest mistake of Naidu, who otherwise is known for his political nous. The alliance was knocked out in Telangana, as TRS, which had astutely called for early election, won the polls handsomely.
Aside from the loss, Naidu was seen as a turncoat for aligning with the Congress. His career, if one recalls, is built on being anti-Congress. More importantly, the Cong-TDP hook up in Telangana is now coming home to roost in Andhra Pradesh. The Congress is much reviled in the State for the bifurcation of composite Andhra Pradesh. In that sense, Naidu was inviting a liability into his camp. But his antipathy to the BJP blinded him to the harsh political realities.
The TDP as it happens, has parted ways with the Congress in the State. But the two parties are, however, still looking to do business together in Delhi. This unprincipled link is not exactly new to the Indian political landscape. But the fact of the matter it has become a matter of mocking in Andhra Pradesh politics. The mood is deflated in the TDP, as plenty of its leaders are shifting base to the YSRCP. TDP MPs from Ongole, Amalapuram and Anakapalli Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, Pandula Ravindra and Avanthi Srinivas, top leader in East Godavari Raghurama Krishnam Raju, former Minister Konathala Ramakrishna and MLA Amanchi Krishnamohan have joined the Jaganmohan bandwagon.
And then there is Pawan Kalyan to create more complexity for the TDP in the elections. Nobody is really sure as to how the JSP will perform in the polls. It has tied up with the two Left parties and the BSP. Pawan Kalyan has received good response from the youth of Andhra Pradesh. But whether these will convert into votes is hard to say. But even with the support of the BJP and the JSP, Naidu's TDP just about managed to scrape through in the last State elections. Pawan, who belongs to influential Kappus in the State, is particularly strong in the pivotal Godavari districts. Kappus don't enjoy good equation with the Khammas; a community to which Naidu belongs.
On a side note, the Telugu politics is riven with the Khammas, Reddy, Kappus ruling the roost in Andhra Pradesh while Velamas and Muslims dominate Telangana. Nobody since the days of NTR has managed to have a wide appeal across the board in the region.
Naidu's TDP is also facing the charge of tampering with electoral rolls in the State. This is a serious allegation and the party has plenty to answer for.
All in all, just a few months ago, Naidu was traveling across the country to try and cobble up a grand alliance to upset the BJP at the Centre. Today, Naidu is fighting a losing battle in his home turf with a huge question mark hanging over his political future.
As they say, beware of the ides of March!
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Last Updated Mar 16, 2019, 7:34 PM IST