Chandrababu Naidu & chronic political opportunism
C M Chandrababu Naidu is a chronic political opportunist. His entire political life reflects this very strong core competence. One doesn’t need to...
C M Chandrababu Naidu is a chronic political opportunist. His entire political life reflects this very strong core competence. One doesn’t need to consider political opportunism as a negative trait, in politics it works wonders for some and for some it just doesn’t work. However, for Naidu this competence has worked out well at every step of his long political journey of 41 years.
He joined Youth Congress at a very early age and risen the ranks in Indian National Congress to become a minister in Anjaiah’s Cabinet at just 28 years of age. His competence to leverage opportunities ensured success at a very early age; he was drawn by Sanjay Gandhi’s ideology in his early life. As he was handling cinematography ministry, he could get close to NT Rama Rao. The legendary leader was easily impressed by the young minister, which led to CB Naidu marrying NTR’s daughter. That was making good of an opportunity. It served as a spring board for a life time of political rise for Naidu.
The classic case of political opportunism is when NTR chose to initiate his own party Telugu Desam Party [TDP] in 1982 with the central agenda of restoring Telugu pride against the insults being meted out to Telugu leaders by the national leaders of Congress Party. CB Naidu neither supported NTR nor left Congress party. In fact, he fought against TDP in his Assembly and lost out badly.
A classic political opportunist that he is, CB Naidu quickly jumped the ship to join his father in law’s Telugu Desam Party. This deft political move by Naidu at a very early stage of his political career highlights his adaptive skills and his quirky decision making. A key point to note is that Naidu joined NTR’s TDP only after losing out in his Assembly, not when NTR established the party.
In the August of 1984 CB Naidu got a huge opportunity to showcase his political suave, when Nadendla Bhaskar Rao staged a political coup against NTR. Naidu quickly paraded the TDP MLA’s before the President of India and ensured the restoration of NTR government. Another political opportunity well utilised by Naidu to rise as TDP general secretary to further control the party.
Naidu could not play second fiddle to NTR for too long, he always considered NTR as a political novice in comparison. The master coup he staged on his own father in law and the president of TDP was a historic and opportunistic political strategy. It relegated NTR as a ‘nobody’ in few days and Naidu as the president of TDP.
Very soon NTR died of cardiac arrest, a man who led a mass movement for Telugu pride died without one. The palace coup by Chandrababu was forgotten quickly by the people of Andhra, as Naidu moved quickly to ensure he is the heir apparent for NTR by subduing his sons and daughters. He constituted the statue of NTR immediately and made him a party icon after his death for political and electoral expediency.
The cold blooded, cut throat politics of Chandrababu Naidu does not represent his soft, mannerful and a very dignified physical demeanor. The regular people can never see, even the second layer of this very deft politician.
While many contemporary political analysts conveniently underplay CB Naidu’s ‘mega insider coup’ on NTR, it’s a historic fact that Naidu usurped power by forcefully dethroning his wife’s father, his political god father and legendary NTR, who single handedly defeated an undefeated Indian National Congress in the Telugu heartland of Andhra Pradesh.
Chandrababu’s checkered political sojourn is sprayed with many such incidents of political opportunism which very few politicians can claim to have showcased in India. CB Naidu wielded such a massive clout in the NDA government under PM Vajpayee that he staged many political feats in his personal interest, one of it was his decisive, contemptuous opposition to then CM of Gujarat Narendra Modi during 2002 Godhra riots.
It was only to score brownie points from minorities of his state. He in fact has intervened into even the party affairs of BJP to such a level, that the party had to put its foot down and protect its CM Narendra Modi. For Narendra Modi it was a strenuous testing time as the first time CM, barely in his first year of governance. Naidu hardly misses an opportunity to strike at his opponents, when in power.
Misjudging that the people of Andhra Pradesh are extremely sympathetic, after an assassination attempt on him in October of 2003, Naidu once again used his clout in NDA to push and pre-pone the general elections by almost a year for his personal political expediency. However, this political ploy backfired and both NDA in the Centre and TDP in the state lost out in the ensuing general and assembly elections of 2004.
The height of opportunism of CB Naidu is evident from the way he has dumped NDA, right after 2004 general elections with zero remorse and with a cold hearted political decision for once again restoring his minority vote bank. He is quite ruthless, when it comes to protecting his political interest.
CB Naidu has lost miserably in the 2004 and again in 2009. He had in 2009, tried to lead an ‘all against one’ coalition with TRS and Communists against Congress party in the undivided Andhra Pradesh and failed. His opportunistic alliance with his arch rival KCR’s TRS in 2009 general elections once again highlights his natural affinity to play politics of convenience.
In 2014 general elections CB Naidu was edgy. He was out of power for 10 years continuously and the large state of Andhra Pradesh was on the anvil of getting divided into two. Naidu has sensed the need to realign with NDA for winning both at assembly and playing a bigger national game at the Centre, as he was sure that BJP would fall short of majority and depend on the alliance partners for staying in power.
A classic political opportunist that he is, Naidu was the first ally to rejoin the NDA after Narendra Modi was nominated as a prime minister candidate. He conveniently forgot all the opposition he mounted on Narendra Modi during 2002 and re-embraced Modi and NDA. It was a nightmare for CB Naidu, when BJP by itself won 282 seats in the 2014 general elections. All his dreams of playing the national game like in the last NDA coalition were shattered.
For a man who keeps all his options close to his chest and very open, and for a man who sees at least 10 years ahead in the contemporary political ecosystem, Chandrababu Naidu initiated Plan B right after 2014 results to contain BJP locally and ensure his state government gets maximum returns from NDA government.
He fully succeeded in the opportunist political plot and kept BJP in Andhra Pradesh cornered and in defense throughout his term. Naidu has received equal quantum of funds and incentives a special category status would get for Andhra Pradesh through BJP government. However, a master manipulator that he is, he kept playing and pushing the game all along.
Sensing the rise of his rival party leader Jaganmohan Reddy and his party YSRCP in the state, and with a colossal misgovernance of the state through grandstanding of building world’s best capital city and not delivering, Naidu made his natural opportunistic move to pull out of NDA, in the election year.
The saga of Naidu’s opportunism continues with some hits and misses. More recently, Pawan Kalyan was one such miss. It’s about time contemporary political parties and leaders in India understand that Chandrababu Naidu is a full blown political opportunist by default and by design. This core competence has given him mixed outcomes throughout his political career; the political outcomes for his convenient betrayal of NDA all over again in 2018 will be out in 2019.