Bengaluru: Last week, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu attacked his arch rival YS Jaganmohan Reddy of YSRCP, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling them three evil forces out to destroy Andhra Pradesh and Telugu pride. He even alleged that KCR alone sent Rs1,000 crore to Jaganmohan Reddy to ensure his defeat.
Wherever he goes campaigning for the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections these days, Naidu reminds the voters that backing Jaganmohan Reddy would be detrimental to autonomy of the state in a federal system. And Naidu is also paying back his rival from neighbouring state of Telangana, KCR, in the same coin.
During the recently held Telangana Assembly elections KCR had played the Telangana card to defeat the Congress–TDP alliance, telling the voters that India’s newest state would be ruled from Amaravati and New Delhi, not from Hyderabad, if the Congress and TDP combine was voted. That strategy paid him handsomely in the elections.
Now, Naidu is telling the voters that if they vote for Jaganmohan Reddy, AP would be remote-controlled by KCR in Hyderabad and Modi in New Delhi.
For the three time CM, the April 11 election is perhaps the most crucial in his 40 plus years of political life. He is leaving no stone unturned to retain power. According to TDP insiders, the pressure is palpable in the party camp.
Jaganmohan Reddy, who broke away from the Congress party in 2010 to launch his own party YSRCP, is also moving earth and heaven to unseat Naidu which will save his party from extinction and safeguard the political interests.
Despite riding on sympathy wave in 2014, Jaganmohan Reddy narrowly lost to Naidu and he is cautious this time. He walked the length and breadth of Andhra Pradesh for over a year to create an
YSRCP wave and knows that he may not get one more chance if he loses this time.
Jagan camp claims that he has carefully chosen all 175 MLA candidates and 25 MP candidates this time. What has bolstered the party is large scale defection from ruling TDP to YSRCP closer to elections. Many sitting MLAs and MPs have switched side creating panic in ruling TDP camp.
“TDP is a sinking ship. Naidu’s own people know that. That’s why a lot of TDP leaders are coming to our side. On May 23, AP will get rid of Naidu and his corrupt regime” said V Vijayasai Reddy, YSRCP MP and a close confidante of Jaganmohan Reddy.
According to ground reports, YSRCP is looking formidable in his stronghold of Rayalaseem region comprising 56 Assembly seats and 8 Lok Sabha seats. Reddy’s party is also in a pole position in several other districts in rest of AP.
These reports have unnerved Naidu who walked out of the NDA to challenge Modi by leading an anti-BJP front in this general election. “Naidu can’t lose this election. It will ruin him completely. He will have to face a vengeful Jaganmohan Reddy, vindictive KCR and an angry Modi if that happens” said a confidante of Naidu.
Beside Telugu pride card, Naidu is also playing minority card telling the voters that Jagan is a BJP plant and they will regret if they vote him.
On the other hand Jaganmohan Reddy is downplaying Naidu’s allegations as hallucinations of a crazy man. He is targeting Naidu on corruption, unemployment, drought relief, unfinished projects including construction of the new capital Amaravati, casteism etc. He is fully aware of the fact that openly identifying himself with KCR and Modi might work against him.
The Telugu cinema superstar Pawan Kalyan’s political outfit “Jana Sena” is keeping Jagan on tenterhooks. According to some political analysts from AP, Pawan Kalyan was eager to join hands with Jagan if he was willing to cede 25 Assembly seats and 3 Lok Sabha seats to him. But, Jagan rejected his feelers claiming that he will win on his own.
Kalyan had backed Naidu and Modi last time. This time he is going solo though some argue that he might finally join hands with Naidu. And that may not be a good news for Jaganmohan Reddy.