Congress broadside against Jagan likely
The news that Congress is making serious efforts to emerge as a force to reckon with in Andhra Pradesh should warm the cockles of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu In the wake of the YSRC having occupied the entire political space of the Congress, any erosion of Jaganmohan Reddys influence on the electorate would only help Naidu more than the Congress
The news that Congress is making serious efforts to emerge as a force to reckon with in Andhra Pradesh should warm the cockles of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. In the wake of the YSRC having occupied the entire political space of the Congress, any erosion of Jaganmohan Reddy’s influence on the electorate would only help Naidu more than the Congress.
Though the Telugu Desam Party’s foundations run deep into anti-Congressism, Naidu is not at all that bothered about the grand old party now since it is not a threat to him anymore after people ate, chewed and spat it in 2014 elections for dividing the state against their sentiment.
The Congress central leadership has appointed Oommen Chandi to search for the leaders who had disappeared into thin air and bring them back to the party fold. He met with success when he managed to convince former Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy to come back home, as Reddy, unlike any Congress leader in AP, has some traction with the people since they saw him going down fighting with the party high command which was bent on dividing the state in 2014.
This apart, the Congress leaders believe that the SCs who are perceived to be with Jaganmohan Reddy could return to the Congress which is their original home if Kiran Kumar Reddy is out there leading the party. This is on account of Reddy’s gesture of scripting SC subplan and providing it statutory status to it, to safeguard the funds meant for SCs are not diverted to any other scheme.
If Kiran Reddy forms the face of the party in AP, then some modicum of respectability and acceptability would come to the party that it might do something for the state. At a time when the UPA is scouting for parties to support it after the Lok Sabha election, the decision to welcome Kiran Kumar Reddy into the party is considered a shrewd move since, before the division of the state, there used to be some degree of camaraderie between Reddy and Chandrababu Naidu.
When the TRS moved a no-confidence motion against the Kiran Kumar Reddy’s government in March 2013, it was Chandrababu Naidu who went to its rescue by refusing to support the motion. With Kiran Kuma Reddy in the forefront, the Congress could build bridges of understanding with Naidu, though behind the scenes.
But the rise of the Congress in AP is an uphill task since the mortal blow that it received 2014 elections was unprecedented. All the Congress nominees lost their security deposits. The writing on the wall was clear even before the election was held with all those leaders worth their salt kept running away when the then PCC President B Satyanarayana tried to offer them party tickets, reminding one of the scenes in a comedy film.
The deathly silence that enveloped what remained of the party after it suffered molecular disintegration continued for four years with most of the Congress leaders disappearing into the thin air. People forgot about the party as the YSRC arrogated to itself Congress’ space.
With no one to offer any resistance, it was not difficult for Jaganmohan Reddy to complete the process of annexation of all the vote banks of the Congress, minorities, SCs, and kapus. The Congress is not so naïve to think that it would be able to capture power in the elections but at least it wants to use the polls to assert itself that it is also a major player. Once people begin to take notice of the party, it wants to gain in strength and look at the possibility of usurping power in 2024, which is a long shot anyway.
The Congress is now trying to undo the mistake it had been doing for the last four years – targeting Chandrababu Naidu and leaving YSRC alone with the hope that he might come in handy in future. Targeting the TDP appears to have been a strategic mistake since it could not gain any purchase on the space the TDP has been occupying. Now the realisation appears to have dawned on the party leaders that it should retrieve its lost ground from Jagan Mohan Reddy.
The party now knows that he would not have any truck with the Congress as he understood to have not forgotten the role the UPA -II had played in making CBI send him to prison in disproportionate assets case. Even if the UPA emerges a strong force and needs the support of MPs from other parties to stake a claim to form government at the centre after next election, Jagan Mohan Reddy might not play ball.
As the Congress, which is at present a dead duck, corners YSRC in the run-up to the next elections and in the process begins showing signs of acquiring life, the development would make the political milieu suitable to the TDP which the Congress does not seem to mind anyway since it is not hopeful of coming power in the state in the near future. On top of it, Naidu might help the UPA after the next elections by supporting it with whatever number of MPs he would have in his hands.
TDP sources said that this was the reason behind Naidu’s tall-talk that the TDP would be in a position to decide who the next Prime Minister would be. In fact, it is said, Naidu had stepped out NDA only after the results of a survey he had commissioned had indicated that Modi's days are numbered and continuing friendship with him would be like traveling in a sinking ship.
Having left the company of Modi, Naidu is now on his own in the electoral battlefield, trying to discredit Jaganmohan Reddy for moving closer to BJP who he considers betrayer of state’s interests. If the Congress makes sincere efforts to improve its presence in the state and if Naidu reciprocates the Congress’ help of splitting the anti-TDP vote, Naidu would be on the gravy train. He may not mind supporting the UPA at the centre, as it would be repaying gratitude. In this way, both the Congress and the TDP would both be winners and there would be no losers.