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Chandrababu Naidu: A desperate fight for survival in a divided state

Chandrababu Naidu: A desperate fight for survival in a divided state

Between 1999 and 2004, the TDP was the second largest constituent of the NDA after the BJP.

Hyderabad: 'Politics is a strange world and there are no permanent foes or friends' is an often repeated cliche. The latest to prove this cliched saying right is TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu. Nara Chandrababu Naidu, the former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh is fighting a 'do or die' battle, perhaps the toughest election of his entire political career, this time.

After 10 years, he is back in the NDA fold. Between 1999 and 2004, the TDP was the second largest constituent of the NDA after the BJP. Naidu was the second most important man after the Prime Minister AB Vajpayee. After the shocking defeat at the hands of Dr YS Rajashekhara Reddy-led Congress in the 2004 Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, Naidu ended his alliance with the BJP calling it a communal party.

According to his one-time friend and a veteran Andhra Pradesh politician Dr MV Mysura Reddy, if somebody brings out a book compiling all the allegations and remarks Naidu made against the BJP in the past 10 years, it will be bigger than an encyclopedia in size. But, there is no scope for such things in real politics. In politics, they look ahead, not worry too much about the past.

Chandrababu Naidu and YS Rajashekhara Reddy were close friends once upon a time. They started their political career in the second half of 1970s and both won 1978 Assembly elections on Congress ticket. Both of them were junior ministers in the T Anjaiah government between 1978-83. Dr YSR held important portfolios like rural development, excise, education etc and Naidu was given an insignificant Cinematography and Technical education portfolio.

Perhaps, Naidu never thought that one day he would be fighting his close friend YSR and later his son YS Jaganmohan Reddy in AP politics. Naidu's stars changed after his father-in-law and Telugu cinema legend NT Ramarao started the TDP in 1983. Interestingly, Naidu did not join his father in law in 1983. He continued with the Congress and lost his election. Only in 1985, he joined the TDP.

NTR was impressed by his son in law's political acumen and made him his Finance Minister. Naidu was a de-facto chief minister in the NTR government. The TRS chief K Chandrashekhara Rao was also a close friend of Naidu.

When Naidu unseated his father in law NTR in 1995 and became the chief minister, the same KCR had backed him fully. Naidu later made KCR a Cabinet Minister in his government. Ironically, Naidu is now fighting his one time friend turned foe YSR's son Jaganmohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh and KCR in Telangana. Life has come a full circle for Naidu.

Naidu has been out of power both at the state and Centre for the past 10 years. The morale among the TDP cadre is also low. The division of AP has also created too many problems for him.

Naidu is hoping that the TDP-BJP alliance would be the third largest party after the TRS and the Congress in Telangana. He is calculating that the BJP votes may help him to win more seats in AP. The BJP has a negligible presence in AP. Some analysts feel that an alliance with the BJP may hamper his chances because of BJP's support to the Telangana Bill in Parliament. They argue that the voters of Telangana don't like the TDP because of its ambiguous stand on Telangana and it may affect the BJP's prospects there.

Some close confidantes of Naidu reveal that he is eyeing the NDA national convener post and an important Cabinet berth at the Centre, if he fails to win Assembly elections from Seemandhra. It helps him to remain relevant and take on the YSRCP.

It can happen only if the TDP manages to win more than a dozen Lok Sabha seats. If it does not happen, he will be in a big trouble.

Naidu is a clever politician and knows that he is fighting a desperate battle for political survival. He is gambling again. Will he be able to achieve his mission? Wait till May 16.