Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu is turning shrill in taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as the NDA for “failing the state.” He does not miss any opportunity to criticise the Union government for its shortcomings. His 20-minute address to the NITI Aayog governing council on June 17 was no exception. He insisted that the role of the Union government was to provide a macro strategy instead of micromanaging schemes, before complaining bitterly that his state has been denied its due.
Naidu, who pulled out of the BJP-led NDA government in March, condemned the BJP for betraying the people of Andhra Pradesh in providing the state Special Category Status and on other assurances under the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014. He spoke about the state’s demands and needs to set the tone for the continuing drift away from the BJP in the run-up to the Lok Sabha and state assembly polls due in less than a year.
The TDP chief is consistently working towards creating wider electoral space for his party by taking the anti-BJP and anti-NDA stand by finding fault with its policies. He says that “inadequate care” in rolling out demonetisation, of which he is a staunch votary, caused hardship to people. “Even now people are put to hardship to receive their own funds, affecting small businesses and workers,” he said.
Highlighting the panic among bank customers, Naidu said the “ill-drafted provisions of the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, like the conversion of deposits of individual investors into equity has led to widespread fear among the public.”
Naidu faults the Modi government for being “unable to align its policies to global market conditions to regulate export and import of agriculture produce thereby adversely affecting local prices and profitability of agriculture of the local farmer.”
He is also critical of the Union government using socio-economic census data that limits beneficiaries under ambitious schemes like Ayushman Bharat. Further, he is increasingly striving to present the BJP as a party that is trying to arm-twist state governments if they fail to fall in line.
Though he claims that he has virtually no interest in national politics, Naidu is consolidating anti-BJP forces for a pitched electoral battle. Already waging war with his bête noire YSR Congress president YS Jaganmohan Reddy on home turf, Naidu’s political compulsions to counter ill effects of incumbency has made him open another battlefront against the BJP and the Jana Sena.
While it makes him the rallying point for non-NDA regional parties, like the National Front of which he was the convener, Naidu may well face a tougher electoral challenge at home if rivals, particularly the YSR Congress and the BJP, come together for a pre or a post-poll alliance.
To improve the TDP’s vote share, he is wooing Muslims, about 45,00,000 in the state, who moved away from the TDP, which once had the late Lal Jan Basha, an influential Muslim, as its MP and party general secretary, since it allied with the BJP and Jana Sena in 2014. The TDP lost to the YSR Congress in 30 constituencies in the Rayalaseema region as well as Krishna, Guntur, Nellore and Prakasam districts with a sizeable Muslim population.
For a new beginning, Naidu joined them for Eid prayers at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Vijayawada and announced opening of 25 residential schools for minority students.
He is likely to induct a Muslim MLA into the state cabinet in one of the two berths which fell vacant consequent to the resignation of the two from the BJP who were cabinet colleagues. The state has also allotted Rs 1,100 crore for minority welfare in the budget for 2018-19. In other promises to win Muslims over, he is to construct a Haj House in Vijayawada costing Rs 80 crore, setting up a waqf tribunal and opposing prosecution in instant triple talaq cases.
Yet, this may not be enough for the TDP to continue in office. Naidu will have to find ways to pull out more stops to extend his reign.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)