Politics of convenience and compromise
Politics of Convenience And Compromise. The beauty or bane of politics in Andhra Pradesh is that it is never static or boring. Everyday offers an interesting turn or an exciting twist.
There is no clear indication from Delhi that Congress president Sonia Gandhi is prepared to forgive and forget YSJ and vice versa. In case Sonia Gandhi is still stubborn in her antipathy towards YSJ, the Seemandhra leaders of her party will have to launch a party to fight the polls.
If the managers of the Congress party in Delhi can pull off a secret understanding with the YSRCP for some sort of seats adjustment in districts like Khammam, Nalgonda, Warangal, Mahboobnagar, Ranga Reddy and Hyderabad, the TDP-BJP alliance before elections would be all the more necessary
The beauty or bane of politics in Andhra Pradesh is that it is never static or boring. Everyday offers an interesting turn or an exciting twist. This has been particularly so since the death of YS Rajasekhara Reddy in the first week of September four years ago. The bizarre copter crash itself is a mystery wrapped in enigma with the family of the deceased not fully convinced that it was just an accident. YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s (YSJ’s) freedom from jail, though on a bail granted by the CBI court on Monday, would surely impact public discourse, political tactics and electoral strategies of parties and individual leaders. This momentous development gives rise to a number of unforeseen consequences with a cascading effect.
What does YSJ’s release mean to the people of AP and political parties? AICC spokesperson PC Chacko advised us not to read any political meaning into the bail. Veerappa Moily has also expressed the same opinion. Heeding such advice is the last thing on anybody’s mind in the politically surcharged atmosphere in the State. It is going to influence the decisions of the Congress leaders in Seemandhra, TDP and the so-called non-political leaders of the integration movement in Seemandhra.
Digvijay Singh, AICC general secretary in charge of AP, on Wednesday, said Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, being a CM, should be thinking of (welfare of ) all the three regions. Kiran Reddy has been playing a very crucial role in preventing MLAs and MPs of the Congress party from Seemandhra region from going out of the party in spite of their desperation. But for his persuasion, most of them would have quit by now. Out of the nine MPs from Seemandhra who planned to put in their papers to Speaker Meira Kumar on Tuesday, six were successfully convinced (rest of the three MPs -- Ananta Venkataram Reddy, Undavalli Aruna Kumar and Lagadapati Rajagopal -- also did not insist on resignation) by Kiran Reddy and PCC president Botcha Satyanarayana that discretion is the better part of valour. The CM is understood to have told them that they should allow the Telangana Bill to come up before the Legislative Assembly for consideration, debate the Bill in full measure and then defeat it. When it goes to President Pranab Mukherjee, he (Kiran Reddy) is said to have promised that he would prevail upon him (Pranab) to withhold assent to it. Whether the CM’s confidence in his ability is misplaced can be known only in due course. Whether the President would give more weight to Cabinet is a moot point.
By openly defying the party high command, Kiran Reddy has made YSJ’s job easy, in a way. He kept the powder dry by refusing to mobilise the support of Seemandhra ministers, MLAs and MPs of the ruling party to the CWC decision and also through his alleged covert and overt support to the Samaikyandhra movement. He did not oblige some of the Congress leaders by floating a party to fight in the general election. With YSJ out of jail, the Seemandhra Congress leaders have only the young leader to approach. Many YSRCP leaders have already been appointed as conveners of the party in a number of constituencies. The conveners are projected as the party’s candidates. Some of the sitting MLAs of the Congress party and those Congress candidates who lost to the TDP or the PRP in the last elections are not sure of finding berth in YSRCP. There is no clear indication from Delhi that Congress president Sonia Gandhi is prepared to forgive and forget YSJ and vice versa. In case Sonia Gandhi is still stubborn in her antipathy towards YSJ, the Seemandhra leaders of her party will have to launch a party to fight the polls.
Besides funds, you need a leader with credibility to found and run such a political outfit. If a leader has both money and a reasonably good image, he would be the right choice. The problem with the Seemandhra Congress leaders is that there are persons with financial resources but they awfully lack in image. Those who have credibility have no money power. Union Minister for Textiles KS Rao’s name has come up for discussion in this regard. He is perceived as the right man for this job. But he would take up the responsibility only at the behest of Sonia Gandhi, which means he would be game to launch a new party in the name of unity of AP only with the blessings of the party high command and only if it is part of overall election strategy. The new party is meant to be a temporary vehicle for the Congressmen who are loyal to the party high command but cannot contest on Congress ticket for fear of losing. For those who are conscious of their political future and who have no particular bondage or connectivity with the national leadership, the YSRCP is the clear option.
Leaders in Rayalaseema are preparing to shift for obvious reasons. While the Congress is expected to perform extremely poorly all over Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra, irrespective of its action on its Telangana decision before elections, the YSRCP has got a shot in the arm with its leader back at the helm. YSJ is going to up the ante and spearhead the Samaikyandhra movement. The party might contest in some constituencies in a few Telangana districts with the slogan of keeping the State united. Whatever may be the popular response in Telangana, the people of Seemandhra are expected to root for him overwhelmingly.
That brings us to the allegation repeatedly made by TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu that the Congress and YSRCP are hand in glove and the bail is a result of the conspiracy. Naidu says even the TRS has been roped in and all the three parties are working together. The conspiracy theory would gain currency in the coming days. Equally vehement would be the propaganda that Naidu is going to have supper with Narendra Modi, the Gujarat strongman and the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. The former theory may take some time to be proven right or wrong. But the second theory cannot wait for the simple reason that Naidu would like to go for a pre-poll tie-up with the BJP while for YSJ it would be suicidal to think of touching the Congress before elections. If the Seemandhra Congress leaders don’t feel encouraged to launch a party to fight both the YSRCP and the TDP, it can be assumed that the Congress would allow YSRCP to win in Seemandhra region only to get its support after the polls. The YSRCP cannot anyway support the NDA and there is no likelihood of a third front emerging. That leaves only the UPA-III to be supported by the YSRCP.
Naidu appears to have made up his mind to go with Modi who today has votes where there are no BJP workers. Youth are flocking to him and 20 per cent of the youngsters who are going to vote for the first time in 2014 are aged between 18 and 22. With the Congress bent upon taking the TRS into its fold to sweep the polls in Telangana and the YSRCP going strong in Seemandhra, the TDP is likely to end up as a poor second in both the regions. By sharing dais with Modi (which Naidu is slated to do in Delhi on October 2nd) in at least four meetings in four regions of the State and by being part of the high-powered, calibrated campaign being mounted by the BJP prime minister-in-waiting, Naidu hopes to bask in reflected glory.
Early on, he toyed with the idea of heading the Third Front. The Left parties did not seem to be exactly enthusiastic and energetic about creating a national alternative to the Congress and the BJP. Not before elections, at least. If at all, the Left would be keen on stopping Modi in his tracks by supporting, after the polls, the UPA-III from outside. The Leftists would rather see Rahul Gandhi as prime minister than allowing the Gujarat leader to wear the crown. This scenario has left Naidu with no other alternative than grabbing the hand of friendship so thoughtfully offered by Modi during the latter’s Hyderabad visit.
Naidu is being pushed towards the BJP by the TDP leaders led by Dayakar Rao, convener of TDP Telangana Forum. They want pre-poll alliance with the BJP in order to give a fight to the combined forces of the Congress and the TRS. If the managers of the Congress party in Delhi can pull off a secret understanding with the YSRCP for some sort of seats adjustment in districts like Khammam, Nalgonda, Warangal, Mahboobnagar, Ranga Reddy and Hyderabad, the TDP-BJP alliance before elections would be all the more necessary. Since the basic idea of the Congress high command is to stall Naidu in the third consecutive general election, nothing can be ruled out. The Telangana leaders of the BJP may not welcome an alliance with Naidu since he is perceived as opposing Telangana statehood despite his repeated assurances to the contrary.
There is a slight scope to stop the division of the State. The Telangana Bill cannot be passed in the Lok Sabha without the support of the BJP. If Naidu can manage to convince Modi that he could keep the T issue on the attic as Vajpayee and Advani did earlier, it is possible to fight the elections on the united AP plank. Many supporters of the TDP in Seemandhra would like to see this happen. The talk of risking Muslim votes would have no relevance since the MIM is solidly with the YSRCP. Muslims in general would vote for the Congress or the YSRCP with a view to keeping Modi confined to Gujarat. The Left parties that were with the TDP in 2009 elections are not with it any more. The CPI is championing the separate statehood demand while the CPM is keen this time around to break bread with the YSRCP. There is, therefore, nothing to lose for the TDP by saying NaMo namaha.
If the YSRCP is carried away by the crowds Jagan attracted in Hyderabad during his journey from jail to home on Tuesday, it may be tempted to carry the fight for united AP to Telangana districts as well. If that is done and the TDP-BJP combine fights shy of shedding the pro-Telangana policies mouthed so far, the YSRCP and the CPM would be the only parties fighting the elections throughout the State on the slogan of unity. If, on the other hand, the TDP succeeds in convincing its leaders and cadres in Telangana and goes back on two-eye theory and goes to polls with Samaikyandhra slogan just as the YSRCP, it will be lending greater clarity by bridging the gap between word and deed. Whether the BJP would fall in line with the TDP or not is not going to make a big difference. If it abandons its Telangana stance, it would be doing it for the second time and again for the sake of Naidu. That is, however, too far-fetched at this point of time.
Ashok Babu, APNGO leader who hogged the limelight at the public meeting held at LB Stadium in Hyderabad and emerged as the chief spokesperson of the movement for united AP, would be dominated by YSJ. He would be slowly fading into irrelevance once the plank is taken over by the YSRCP. He cannot keep the strike going for long. Once the strike is called off, he would be losing his striking power. Politics would take over.