YSR Congress: 73, TDP: 0. That’s the score in the recently held elections to 75 municipalities in Andhra Pradesh. Two results are contested in court. The rout of Nara Chandrababu Naidu, once referred to as ‘Apara Chanakya, the eternal ‘kingmaker’ of Indian politics, is complete.
Naidu’s political story has enough twists and turns of a Telugu potboiler. He took over the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 1995 by engineering a coup against its founder, the charismatic actor-turned-chief minister N.T. Rama Rao. For over two decades Naidu held an iron grip over the party but its fall and decline now seems irreversible. This is evident from his party’s pathetic performance in three polls in the state during last 21 months—it lost both the assembly and Lok Sabha polls in 2019, had a poor showing in the rural polls last month and is now annihilated in the municipalities.
And the political fortune of Naidu’s bête noire Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy only appears to be soaring. Interestingly, Reddy’s father Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy was once a close friend of Naidu as both began their political career in the Congress.
“Chandrababu Naidu knows better than anyone else why the party is in such a bad shape. He is well aware why so many seniors close to him have deserted him,” says Gorantla Butchaiah Chowdary, who has been with TDP since its formation in 1983.
The first cracks began when Naidu took the unilateral decision to walk out of the NDA just a year before the 2019 polls. His decision was opposed by many seniors, including Ashok Gajapathi Raju, who was in Narendra Modi’s cabinet. Though they advised him not to sever ties with the BJP as it has helped the party win two assembly elections in the past, including the 1999 (thanks to last-minute alliance with the BJP, which was riding the Kargil wave under Atal Behari Vajpayee), and yet again in 2014.
“That walking out of NDA alliance was a tactical mistake,” Naidu himself has confessed to this correspondent in an informal chat not so long ago. Naidu has made many attempts to extend an olive branch but now it seems too late for any reconciliation as the BJP leadership in Delhi has lost faith in his friendship. But senior leaders like Butchaiah Choudhary feel it is not too late for TDP to make course correction and rebuild the party for the next general elections three years later. But does Naidu, who is 70-plus, have the vigour to revive the party, especially as he has not groomed any young leaders to take the fight to the rival’s camp?
Sadly, Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh proved disastrous in politics. For now, it does seem the party is heading for extinction from Andhra Pradesh’s political canvas. #KhabarLive #hydnews