The former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh and Telugu Desam party supremo Chandrababu Naidu’s arrest on corruption charges in September 2023 has had a significant impact on Andhra Pradesh politics and the upcoming 2024 elections.

The arrest has been seen by many as a politically motivated move by the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) to weaken the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP), led by Naidu. The YSRCP has denied any political motive, but the timing of the arrest, just months ahead of the elections, has raised eyebrows.

Naidu’s arrest has also led to a polarization of Andhra Pradesh politics, with supporters of the TDP and YSRCP rallying behind their respective leaders. The TDP has accused the YSRCP of misusing power and targeting its political opponents. The YSRCP, on the other hand, has defended the arrest, saying that Naidu is guilty of corruption and should be held accountable.

The arrest has also had an impact on the electoral prospects of the TDP. Naidu is a popular and charismatic leader, and his arrest has galvanized his supporters. However, it is also possible that the arrest will alienate some voters, particularly those who are not strong supporters of the TDP.

The impact of Naidu’s arrest on the 2024 elections is still unclear. However, it is likely to be a major factor in the campaign. The TDP will try to use the arrest to rally its supporters and portray itself as the victim of political persecution. The YSRCP, on the other hand, will try to downplay the arrest and focus on its own campaign promises.

In addition to the TDP and YSRCP, the Jana Sena Party (JSP), led by actor-politician Pawan Kalyan, is also expected to play a major role in the 2024 elections. The JSP is seen as a potential third force in Andhra Pradesh politics, and it is possible that it could benefit from the polarization of politics between the TDP and YSRCP.

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On the other hand, the sensational arrest of former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh and president of Telugu Desam Party N Chandrababu Naidu in the scam related to the Andhra Pradesh Skill Development Corporation’s scheme for youth is bound to have far-reaching effects on the political situation in Andhra Pradesh, where Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy is seeking re-election solely based on his government’s welfare benefits while the opposition parties are bent upon avoiding a split in the anti-establishment votes.

One of the unintended consequences of Naidu’s arrest is the huge attention and widespread sympathy it has already drawn in various parts of the world. The sordid episode has attracted unusual attention from people belonging to many walks of life, including Telugu NRIs across the globe. The ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) seems to be mulling how to wriggle out of the unpleasant situation due to its possible negative fallout.

On the face of it, Naidu’s arrest is a positive development for the ruling YSRCP as its cadre can highlight the minus points of the administration during the Nandu regime. They can thus temper the ‘do or die ‘ spirit with which the TDP is apparently approaching the electoral battle.

Naidu has been steering the party for 28 years, apart from having had stints as chief minister in both combined and residual state of Andhra Pradesh. His questionable role in the scam involving Rs. 371 crore may affect his political life. So, the political atmosphere in AP has changed completely following his arrest. Many rallies have been held across the state, elsewhere in the country as well as abroad protesting the arrest of Naidu, with critics dubbing it as “an undemocratic act on the part of the Jagan government”.

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Jagan himself must have felt the impact of the arrest as, despite being in London on a personal trip at the time of Naidu’s arrest, he witnessed protests organised by Naidu’s ‘sympathisers’ in front of his camp in England. The protesters might be sympathisers of TDP but they had rallied in the name of ‘Telugu people living on foreign soil in different countries across the globe’. Such calibrated protests have embarrassed YSRCP.

The sympathy for Naidu, growing by the day, could negatively impact YSRCP’s prospects in the upcoming polls. The salient features of the skill development programme, involving 2.13 lakh students, were appreciated by the state government in 2021. The state government’s present claim that Rs. 240 crore out of Rs. 371 crore allocated for the scheme had been misused by the previous government raises questions over how nearly 70% of the total amount could be swindled in a project that involves the operation of thousands of skilling centres.

Not many will buy the view in some quarters that Naidu’s arrest was made by the CID without consulting Jagan. The project had been handed over to the state government in 2021. This implies that the Jagan government did not act on this immediately but went ahead with the arrest of Naidu in view of the impending Assembly polls in the state. The state government has ensured maximum publicity to this episode for deriving political mileage.

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Amidst all this, the ongoing protests, even in foreign countries, has altered political equations. Things have come to such a pass that TDP can now withstand the electoral challenges hurled by YSRCP from a position of strength based on new-found sympathy for Naidu.

The alliance between TDP and Jana Sena Party (JSP), announced JSP president Pawan Kalyan after his meeting with Naidu at the Rajahmundry Central Prison, has given heft to both the opposition parties. The power of this alliance will be seen in the Assembly segments that had witnessed a split in the anti-establishment votes in the previous elections. This has sent shock waves to the ruling party, which had been daring the JSP chief to go it alone in the upcoming elections. In any case, YSRCP cadre cannot effectively counter those protesting Naidu’s arrest beyond the borders of the state.

Pawan may have faced criticism for being mere flag-bearer for TDP. In the changed political context, however, he could be a pallbearer for Jagan’s rule in the forthcoming Assembly elections, considering that he has vowed to unseat Jagan at any cost.

Overall, the arrest of Chandrababu Naidu has had a significant impact on Andhra Pradesh politics and the upcoming 2024 elections. It is likely to be a major factor in the campaign, and it is unclear how it will ultimately affect the outcome of the polls. ■ #hydnews #khabarlive #hydkhabar

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A senior journalist having 25 years of experience in national and international publications and media houses across the globe in various positions. A multi-lingual personality with desk multi-tasking skills. He belongs to Hyderabad in India. Ahssanuddin's work is driven by his desire to create clarity, connection, and a shared sense of purpose through the power of the written word. His background as an writer informs his approach to writing. Years of analyzing text and building news means that adapting to a reporting voice, tone, and unique needs comes as second nature.