Naidu takes the bull by the horns
Naidu takes the bull by the horns

When AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu announced his decision to recall his two ministers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet late on Wednesday night, following the Centre's refusal to grant Special Category Status for AP, it had a distant but familiar ring. 

Take a quick trip down memory lane to 2006. Union Ministers K Chandrashekar Rao and A Narendra pulled out from UPA- I as they felt their continuation was hurting the cause of separate Telangana movement. The exit of TRS Ministers from the central cabinet as well as from late YSR cabinet in the state signalled the beginning of a no-holds-barred Telangana movement. The rest of how Rao built the movement forcing UPA-II to deliver Telangana is history. 

Now, Naidu, by recalling his ministers, sent out a clear signal to Narendra Modi that he can no longer be pushed around by the BJP. His detractors, mainly YS Jaganmohan Reddy, say had the TDP exited from the NDA government much earlier, the Special Category Status could have been a reality by now. But this is only an assumption. 

With the TDP exit, the first by any NDA coalition partner, rumblings in other NDA coalition partners will come out in the open. Shiv Sena is already out daggers drawn. Though it has announced it would go it alone in the next elections, it has not yet pulled out of NDA government.  

Though there is no immediate threat to Narendra Modi following Naidu's midnight decision to exit from the NDA government, Naidu, however, has paid back the BJP by creating an impression that all is not well between the BJP and the coalition partners and that BJP is not a saint any more.  

Already enough damage has been done to the BJP with TDP MPs raising the issue very day in Parliament. Naidu had a repertoire of questions for which the BJP had no answers. From the Assembly floor, he had challenged it to prove if any of his demands was unjust, and if not, it should concede them.

While this is so, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, who all along had a soft corner for BJP, suddenly turned against Narendra Modi and is now busy assembling a third front against him.  The TRS is unhappy with the BJP for not delivering the commitments made in the AP Reorganisation Act for Telangana, which include among others division of High Court and steel plant at Bayyaram in the erstwhile Khammam district.

The all-consuming question now is what would be Naidu’s next move – whether he will be in the third front that KCR is leading, which is unlikely, or would he be part of the front that the Congress is cobbling up, which seems unlikely now; but, politics is the art of the possible – anything can happen.  

Like KCR, Naidu, too, is understood to be having national ambitions. He wants to pass on the baton to his son Lokesh and move on, as he is understood to be convinced that Modi's name may not be very hot in the next election. For now, Naidu’s last tango with Modi has ended.