The master puppeteer Narendra Modi is at work, which is in changing the political landscape in the two Telugu-speaking States. In Andhra Pradesh, the patterns in the political kaleidoscope are changing fast while in Telangana State the change seems to have set in, though it is not discernible yet. The change that has happened so far is only to the extent of making one wonder if KCR has smoked peace-pipe with Modi.
But first AP: After bidding farewell to NDA in March, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has been ploughing a lonely furrow. Now the battle-lines have been drawn. On one side is Chandrababu Naidu and on the other, the YSRC and Jana Sena.
Even in the halcyon days when Modi and Naidu used to rub shoulders with each other, the Prime Minister was, in fact, frying another fish – Jaganmohan Reddy.
Though it was an irritant in Modi-Naidu relationship, the AP leader tolerated it though it rankled his mind all the time but never showed it, not knowing if the big brother would get angry. But Modi, who has to face a fierce battle head, let the relationship continue on a low-key as it would be politically expedient to keep more than one iron in the fire.
This seems to be the reason why Modi has left a door open for Jaganmohan Reddy because he appears to have guessed that one day Naidu would turn against him as he had denied him what he sought - Special Category Status.
Naidu, as one who has been in power, knows that he cannot have excuses for deficiency in service to people. As Jaganmohan Reddy began using SCS as a weapon to steal a march over his political adversary, he quickly abandoned NDA and turned against Modi, to pick up SCS as an issue to go to war with the BJP which he thinks would appeal to the people, who are feeling bitter over the shabby treatment meted to them by the Centre.
Modi who has his plan-B ready activated it – YS Jagan Mohan Reddy would come in handy for him since he is not in a position to demand anything from him and on the contrary is eager to help the BJP out in the elections for Lok Sabha by offering his MPs to him, should the need arise. As Reddy cannot openly align with Modi, as for one thing, by doing so, he would be antagonising the Muslim minorities and for another, he would not have an answer to the people as to why he joined hands with a party, which had denied SCS, they both are not being seen together openly.
Then we have Pawan Kalyan whose claims that he is an independent warrior in the battleground is always suspect. Like Jaganmohan Reddy, even he steers clear of attacking the BJP. On the contrary, he trains his guns at Naidu. Both Pawan Kalyan and Jaganmohan Reddy have pledged to end the rule of Chandrababu Naidu.
Though Pawan Kalyan does not require any favours from Modi, he still appears to be on Modi’s page, making one wonder if he has an invisible saffron streak running through him.
If the master puppeteer facilitates an alliance between the two – YSRC and Jana Sena - before the elections, then Chandrababu Naidu would have a serious problem on his hands. Though he has been stepping up his attack on the ‘betrayer’ BJP, it remains to be seen how in political arithmetic it would finally pan out.
In case of Telangana, the initial bitterness that marked the relations between KCR and the BJP, or for that matter Modi, seems to have mellowed down. KCR who talked about federal front and vowed to skipper the nation through the choppy waters of economic vicissitudes does not talk much about the agenda he had espoused earlier.
He appears to be lacking in spirit now in roping in anti-BJP and anti-Congress parties in an attempt to stitch together a formation of regional parties without either BJP or the Congress in the lead.
Since then a lot of water has flowed in Musi and KCR is seen more in the company of Narendra Modi. The Prime Minister, who was averse to confirming an appointment to Naidu, readily received KCR for a one-on-one ahead of NITI Aayog meeting. After the meeting, KCR endorsed Modi’s preference for simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and Assembly.
At the NITI Aayog meeting, both of them were seen together as though a new friendship has blossomed between them like bougainvilleas in early summer. This was in contrast to just a handshake to Chandrababu Naidu despite the latter showing humility to him like never before.
Then arrived KTR with his request for Bayyaram steel plant and Modi again gave him time where both of them discussed several issues. importantly the promises made to Telangana in the AP State Reorganisation Act, 2014.
For quite some time now, regardless of KCR’s anti-BJP rant, the Centre has been quite accommodative to its requests. In fact, KCR has no major issue to pick a fight with BJP as the latter has done everything for Telangana, including granting all clearances to Kaleswaram Project in stark contrast to Polavaram, the execution of which has become a Sisyphean impossibility for Naidu.
The game plan appears to be the same, Modi is handling KCR and his son KTR with kid gloves, expecting the support of TRS MPs to him after the elections. In this political calculus, the BJP in Telangana is in a quandary, not knowing if the TRS is a friend or a foe.
In politics and war, tactics are same - subterfuge, brinkmanship and pre-emptive attack to gain a windfall. In the end, the winner takes it all and loser has to stand small. No questions will be asked about how one has won the war. What matters is whether one has won the war or not.