Dr Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao
The last week of July saw the consolidation of political parties in India in to two well defined groups. The first group of 38 parties under the banner of NDA and Prime Ministerial candidature of Narendra Modi met in Delhi while the old UPA, plus many additional parties whose number reached 26 met in Bangalore and chose a new name for its coalition, Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A) but not naming the leader to take on Modi in 2024. These two alliances put together almost touch the 400 seat marks in the Lok Sabha. Still a good 90 member group containing different parties is left outside these two alliances. Surprisingly those the parties left out include the ruling parties of Odisha, Biju Janata Dal led by Navin Patnaik, the BRS of Telengana led by K. Chandrasekhara Rao and Y, S Jaganmohana Reddy Andhra Pradesh and his YSRCP. While the senior most politician and current President of TDP, Chandrababu Naidu is also surprisingly failed to get invitation from neither of the two alliances. Barring Jaganmohana Reddy all the other three leaders and their parties are one time partners of either UPA or NDA. That fact surprises the rejection of KCR and Chandrababu into the national coalition. The Lok Sabha elections are almost 9 months away and few changes in political landscape is always possible. But as the political situation suggest that both those ambitious leaders are in political eclipse and that may remain as political untouchables because of their queer politics and political somersaults they made in the past.
Both KCR and Chandrababau Naidu are the two senior regional leaders from the southern state of Andhra Pradesh and till they differed on the issue of power sharing were close colleagues in Telugu Desam (TDP) party founded by NTR in early eighties. After 1999 elections Chandrababu Naidu declined the cabinet minister post to KCR and offered him deputy speaker post, which KCR felt degradation of his political stature and revolted to take up separate Telangana agitation in 2001. By 2004 Congress party came back to power in Andhra Pradesh and then CM Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy played his political game in keeping the separate state agitation in check. Untimely death of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter accident, and weakened Congress at the Centre agreed for the creation of Telangana, with the hope of gaining few Lok Sabha seats there, with a unwritten condition that KCR will merge his party, TRS, with the Congress. Having gained his dream of Telangana, KCR showed his true political character to Sonia Gandhi and Congress and ended his association with that national party and went alone to the polls and won the power and since that 2014 he is the CM of that state.
Politicians are selfish and politics are for power is well known. But KCR is a special in exhibiting that selfish nature to gain individual political advantage. This art of self-first is a trait of both KCR and Chandrababu. Post 2014 elections both the leaders are Modi admirers and that admiration ended the moment they found themselves weak in their own political constituencies. Chandrababu Naidu realized his fast weaning popularity is residuary Andhra Pradesh so thought of throwing blame on the non-cooperative Narendra Modi and BJP. He came out of NDA and joined hands with Congress in 2018 Karnataka assembly elections and even went to the extent of endorsing Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate in 2019 elections. His then call was Rahul is better than Modi for the nations. After the drubbing he received in Andhra Pradesh in 2019 and Modi’s further ascendency in national politics, Chandrababu Naidu was desperately trying to get an audience with Modi and Amit Shaw. Chandrababu Naidu lost the trust with BJP as he has forgotten the political and economic help he received from BJP. In fact the NDA under the leadership of Vajpayee advanced the Lok Sabha elections in 2004 to help Chandrababu in his state elections. It was Venkaiah Naidu, a close friend of Chandrababu Naidu, who used his influence in BJP to help Chandrababu electorally which ultimately ended in the defeat of NDA at the Lok Sabha and TDP at state level. A year before that Chandrababu Naidu as the CM of Andhra Pradesh threatened Narendra Modi with arrest if he comes to Hyderabad, as he held Modi as a villain for Gujarat riots. Politics has taken full circle and Chandrababu is in dumps, an untouchable politically while Modi ‘hawa’ continues. Chandrababu’s attempts of re-approachment with BJP and Modi is well known for Congress, hence no invitation from anti-Modi group now named I.N.D.I.A.
The reasons for untouchable status in politics for KCR has different story. Post 2018 victory in his state, KCR thought of wearing bigger shoes as national leader leaving the state of Telangana to his son KTR, heir apparent. Coming from a state which has only 17 seats in Lok Sabha and not sure of winning not more than half of them, the ambition of KCR, as the PM candidate is almost laughable. But still he persisted with the idea of non-Congress and non-BJP front and toured all the opposition ruled states and met leaders of all other regional parties. All his efforts came to a naught as all the regional leaders whom he met moved away from his formulation and sided with Congress. Despite KCR’s preparation for national role by changing his regional party’s name from TRS to BRS he was cold shouldered by ‘INDIA’ partners. KCR is now licking his self-inflicted political wounds as a rejected leader. With elections fast approaching in Telangana and his politics of weakening the Congress by enticing the MLAs of that party with ministerial positions has almost boomeranged. Post Karnataka victory Congress is throwing a better challenge on KCR.
For both KCR and Chandrababu, the two self-centered politicians there are no more friend in other parties and their own support base dwindling in their respective states, the political ‘eclipse’ of these two leaders may lost long.
(Author is retired professor. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at [email protected])