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Babu busy securing TDP fortunes

Babu busy securing TDP fortunes
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Two years after bifurcation, the truncated State of Andhra Pradesh is already warming up for the next general elections. The BJP has sounded the first...

Two years after bifurcation, the truncated State of Andhra Pradesh is already warming up for the next general elections. The BJP has sounded the first bugle by making it clear that it was not in favour of according the State any special category status.

Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu, who was going ahead with his grandiose plans to construct a world class capital; make the State drought-proof besides making it a global investment destination, prior to going to the people for votes, is now confronted with a rather critical problem. One that holds damning ramifications, unless addressed on a priority basis.

He has to devise last-ditch measures to ensure that the Centre’s latest bolt from the blue will not dent the party’s political fortunes anytime in the near future. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s reply in Rajya Sabha on Friday, where he clearly indicated that AP can forget about special category status, has invigorated the political apparatus in the State. Sulking and almost in the wilderness for the past two years, Jaitley’s categorical hint has come as Sanjeevini, a timely soothing balm, for the opposition parties.

On its part, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has been putting up a brave face. It has blamed the Congress for the State’s unscientific bifurcation and held it responsible for the denial of special category status. Ironically, for a party that has been harping on BJP’s ‘hand-holding’ friendly gesture, the TDP now finds itself in a situation where it has no option but to adopt a strident attitude against the Centre and prepare the ground to exit from the Union Cabinet at the most opportune time.

This has become imperative because the boxing ring is ready and the major players are warming up for the first round that gets underway on Tuesday. The main opposition party, YSRCP, has called for the first statewide bandh in Andhra Pradesh. Interestingly, it is being supported by the Congress party. The main question now is how serious and sincere are the political parties in achieving special status for the State.

If they all are really sincere about going about the task on hand, which is striving to get special status, then they need to take cue from the agitation for separate Telangana that was spearheaded by the TRS. Although, initially all parties did launch a fight for a separate State of their own individual accord, they succeeded in making an impact only after the JAC was formed and all parties had jointly fought for the cause of Telangana statehood. But in Andhra Pradesh, at least for now, such a situation does not seem to be on the anvil.

The Congress party wants to bounce back by using this issue in its quest to resurrect itself. The YSRCP, which has paid a heavy price for its haste to assume power and numerous acts of omissions and commissions, is desperate to improve its political future in its avowed role as the ‘champion of special status’ while projecting TDP as the villain-of-the-piece.

The YSRCP wants to attack Naidu and blame him for having failed to pressurise the Centre to grant special status because he was ‘neck-deep in cash-for-vote’ scam. Not to be left behind or get isolated, even the Left parties seem keen on jumping into the ring with its own version of political punches to knock the daylight out of the ruling party.

Amidst the upheavals, what has to be read between the lines is that each party’s primary focus is in making hay in the 2019 elections while special status is just the tip of the iceberg, a platform from where they wish to express their solidarity with the ‘badly impacted’ people (read it as electorate) and as being their ‘only’ messiahs.

On the other hand, the TDP, which has been preparing ground not only to return to power in 2019 but also wants to see the coronation of the heir-apparent Lokesh, will now have to change its strategies. It has to showcase its achievements on the one hand and send out a ‘strong’ message that it would under no circumstances sacrifice the interests of the people, on the other.

Meanwhile, at the other extreme of the spectrum, TDP does not wish to sever ties with BJP, at least not in the foreseeable future. If it does so, it would help the YSRCP gain ground as it would claim that Naidu had failed to deliver. Of course, Jaganmohan Reddy would launch a frontal attack on Naidu and point out that had he threatened to walk out of the NDA government, the BJP, caught on sticky wicket, could have surrendered and granted special status.

Given the dicey situation, which is not to its liking, the uncomfortably placed TDP is gradually creating an atmosphere wherein it has started showing its displeasure against the Centre. Not only that, having been pushed to the wall, the TDP is gearing up to vent its ire at BJP’s ‘betrayal’. It will surprise no one in the political circles, if it decides to go it alone, next time around.

However, all these developments have pushed the BJP into a defensive situation. While all political parties, including its ally TDP, are now going hammer and tongs against its ‘neglect’ of Andhra Pradesh, it has no potent weapon to strike. Special status has become such an emotive issue (a la Telangana to those running movement) that all players will fan the emotions further to achieve their own political gains.

In the backdrop of this situation no amount of explanation by BJP would help the party. It can safely be concluded that BJP has lost the political bout even before the first punch has been delivered. It is to be seen what strategies the other major players would adopt and who would reach the finals successfully. They can take a lesson or two on the art of survival from champion boxers when they get down to business in the Rio Olympics that will begin five days from today.

By V RAMU SARMA

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