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Why Chandrababu Naidu’s New-Found Love for the Congress Does Not Excite Oppn Leaders

Except for Chandrababu Naidu, not many leaders showed alacrity to join the grand opposition meet which was earlier slated to be held in Delhi later this week.

Sumit Pande | News18.com

Updated:November 21, 2018, 10:53 AM IST
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Why Chandrababu Naidu’s New-Found Love for the Congress Does Not Excite Oppn Leaders
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu presents a shawl to Congress president Rahul Gandhi during a meeting in New Delhi on November 1. (PTI Photo)
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New Delhi: Hours before Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu was to leave for Davos to attend the World Economic Forum meet in January this year, there was a flurry of activity at his office in Amaravati and Delhi.

The Chief Minister’s Office wanted to know the exact quote of YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy’s interview at Tirupati earlier in the day. Jagan, it was reported, had expressed his willingness to work with the BJP if Andhra Pradesh was granted special status.

In Davos, Naidu held discussions with CEOs of 25 companies. He was seen posing for a picture with KT Rama Rao, son of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao. The same week when he returned to Amaravati, he had perhaps made up his mind on the future course of action.

Ahead of the Winter Session of Parliament, he had issued an ultimatum to the BJP over neglecting the interests of Andhra Pradesh. Naidu, in the meantime, was weighing his options outside the NDA.

A deft hand at mobilising disparate regional outfits, a TDP MP had predicted ahead of the Budget Session of Parliament that Naidu would not stop at just quitting the NDA. He would try to build a non-BJP front at the Centre.

That is precisely what the TDP supremo has gone about doing in the last eight months. And quite unlike other current and potential UPA allies, he can afford to do that without losing an inch of his political territory.

After the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, TDP is the only party in the opposition (to some extent even the DMK in Tamil Nadu enjoys the same position) which does not stand to lose with the growth of the Congress.

Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress has walked away with the entire Congress base in Andhra Pradesh. So Congress is not an adversary to the TDP anymore.

Moreover, in the future, the growth of the Congress party (even in Andhra Pradesh) can’t be at the expense of TDP. Their support base is mutually exclusive.

But that is not the case with other regional parties who have thrived in their respective states by snatching Congress’ vote bank. The BSP has built its politics around Dalit votes in Uttar Pradesh. Mulayam and Lalu snatched away Muslims from the Congress. The Trinamool Congress and Sharad Pawar’s NCP are sitting in the Congress’ political space.

All these regional parties may want to fight the BJP at the Centre and the state. But a strong Congress also is hardly suitable for their political sustenance. And moreover, at least three out of these five regional satraps nurse PM ambitions.

For the Congress, Naidu is a deft ‘sarathi’ who opened a channel of communication with other regional parties that may not want to be seen to be dealing with the Congress. For instance, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Naidu has been the only senior leader who has gone and met Rahul Gandhi. He has called the Congress as the anchor of the opposition front while other opposition leaders would rather want the Gandhi scion to prove his mettle in the electoral battle before being admitted to the senior league.

No surprises, thus, that except for Naidu, not many leaders showed alacrity to join the grand opposition meet which was earlier slated to be held in Delhi later this week.

They would all wait and assess Congress’ performance in the five state polls before committing any further.
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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