The AP CM is try­ing to cob­ble up a Congress-led front to de­feat the rul­ing TRS.

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation - S. RAMA KR­ISHNA HY­DER­ABAD

Andhra Pradesh Chief Min­is­ter and TDP pres­i­dent N. Chan­drababu Naidu, who wants to play the king­maker’s role at the Cen­tre next year, is now play­ing al­most the same role in neigh­bour­ing Te­lan­gana Assem­bly elec­tions, in cob­bling to­gether a Congress-led Op­po­si­tion front to de­feat the rul­ing TRS headed by Chief Min­is­ter K. Chan­drasekhar Rao (KCR).

Though not di­rectly seen in the ne­go­ti­a­tions or seat shar­ing talks, Naidu is co­or­di­nat­ing his TDP unit of Te­lan­gana to en­sure that the pro­posed “grand al­liance” (Ma­hakootami) led by Congress stays and the Op­po­si­tion vote is not di­vided in the state. Other Op­po­si­tion par­ties like CPI and Te­lan­gana Jana Samithi (TJS), led by Prof Ko­dan­daram are in touch with TDP lead­ers in Hy­der­abad.

Naidu, ac­cord­ing to sources in Te­lan­gana TDP, is mon­i­tor­ing po­lit­i­cal de­vel- op­ments from Amar­a­vati al­most on a daily ba­sis and keep­ing him­self abreast of fast chang­ing de­fec­tions from one party to an­other. A unit of the po­lit­i­cal wing of the AP in­tel­li­gence po­lice, too, is stated to be tour­ing Te­lan­gana to as­sess the win­ning prospects of dif­fer­ent par­ties in all 119 Assem­bly seats, but TDP de­nied it.

The TDP na­tional pres­i­dent, in his ea­ger­ness to keep the grand al­liance to­gether, told his party lead­ers in Te­lan­gana that they should not de­mand more seats from Congress. Ini­tially, the Te­lan­gana TDP sought at least 30 Assem­bly seats, but later scaled down its de­mand to around 15 or 16, solely be­cause of in­struc­tions from Naidu.

As a re­sult, the CPI, which in the be­gin­ning asked for 15 Assem­bly seats, is now ready to set­tle for a sin­gle digit num­ber—fewer than 10 and TJS which too wanted to con­test from at least 16 seats is now okay with a lower fig­ure. “We are work­ing hard to save the grand al­liance to de­feat TRS from power this time,” ad­mit­ted TDP’s Te­lan­gana unit pres­i­dent L Ramana talk­ing to The Sun­day Guardian.

The rul­ing TRS, too, is rais­ing the is­sue of Naidu play­ing an ac­tive role in the pol­i­tics of Te­lan­gana af­ter a gap of four years and de­scrib­ing a vote to Congress-led al­liance was noth­ing, but a vote for “Te­lan­gana en­emy— Chan­drababu Naidu”. Se­nior TRS Min­is­ter T. Har­ish Rao went a step ahead and said that Naidu would even try to “re-unite Andhra and Te­lan­gana” in the name of unity of Tel­ugu peo­ple.

Har­ish is nephew of CM KCR and a key mem­ber of TRS. KCR’s son and IT Min­is­ter K.T. Rama Rao, too, termed a vote for Congress- led al­liance was noth­ing, but re­viv­ing Naidu who bit­terly op­posed for­ma­tion of Te­lan­gana when he was in power. Chief Min­is­ter KCR him­self told a re­cent pub­lic meet­ing at Wana­parthy that the Congress was danc­ing to the tunes of Naidu.

How­ever, Naidu is firm on see­ing that the Congress-led al­liance was sup­ported in all as­pects—both seats wise and re­sources wise—so that the TRS can be de­feated. TRS lead­ers have al­leged that Naidu had promised to pump in Rs 200 crore funds and keep ready three he­li­copters for Congress cam­paign­ing. This charge, any­way was de­nied by both Congress and TDP lead­ers.

De­feat­ing TRS is es­sen­tial to Naidu as he faces a clutch of crim­i­nal cases in Hy­der­abad courts in con­nec­tion with the four year old cash­for-vote case filed by the anti-cor­rup­tion bu­reau (ACB). The re­cent re­open­ing of the case by the In­come Tax of­fi­cials by grilling a for­mer TDP and cur­rent Congress MLA A. Re­vanth Reddy re­vived the po­lit­i­cal heat.

Naidu and his party lead­ers are aware that if TRS wins in the 7 De­cem­ber Assem­bly elec­tions, KCR would speed up Te­lan­gana ACB case and tighten the noose around him ahead of cru­cial Andhra Pradesh Assem­bly elec­tions that will be held along those of Lok Sabha in April/May 2019. More­over, Naidu al­leges that KCR is be­ing used by the Naren­dra Modi-led BJP govern­ment at the Cen­tre.

Naidu has been telling his TDP lead­ers not to praise him as the “fu­ture prime min­is­ter” af­ter 2019 elec­tions as he doesn’t want to cre­ate trou­ble to Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi or any other as­pi­rant to the post from the Op­po­si­tion camp. “When I am com­fort­able with the CM post here, why should you (party lead­ers) raise such slo­gans?” he told them, at a meet­ing in Vijayawada this week.

Sim­i­larly, Naidu told his lead­ers in Te­lan­gana, too, not to talk about ei­ther shar­ing po­lit­i­cal power or claim­ing some posts like Deputy CM dur­ing the elec­tions as it would send wrong sig­nals on the unity in the al­liance. But, at the same time, he wants to de­cide the next CM from Congress, if the al­liance wins enough seats and also ap­point a Deputy CM from his TDP af­ter the re­sults.

Sources in Te­lan­gana TDP are not sure of the cam­paign­ing by Naidu, as he is still on two minds on the scale of his pres­ence here. Ini­tially, Naidu wanted to skip pub­lic ral­lies or road- shows in Te­lan­gana along with Congress lead­ers, but now he ap­pears to be hit­ting the cam­paign trail even on a limited level in Hy­der­abad city, where a large num­ber of Andhra set­tlers are there.

A Congress leader who pre­ferred to re­main anony­mous told this news­pa­per that this time Chan­drababu Naidu was play­ing an im­por­tant be­hind-the-scene role that would be help­ful to the grand al­liance in Te­lan­gana. “He ( Naidiu) knows that his over­sized pres­ence in Te­lan­gana elec­tions would dam­age us, so he is play­ing a con­struc­tive king­maker role,” the leader.


An artist paints an ef­figy of de­mon king Ra­vana dur­ing prepa­ra­tions for the up­com­ing Dussehra, in Guwahati, on Wed­nes­day.

N. Chan­drababu Naidu

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