Chandrababu is Facing A Tough Time

N. Murthy

Chandrababu wanted elections in March to cash in on the possible sympathy wave due to PWG’s assassination attempt against him. But the Central Election Commission put paid to his plans. Whatever sympathy was there seems to have dissipated by now.

Much before the Alipiri assassination attempt of the PWG, Chandrababu was planning for early Assembly polls because he had sensed the growing resentment of the people against his Government. On the eve of TDP Mahanadu which was held at Tirupathi, Naidu declared one crore “boons” and set the election agenda. But very soon he was pushed into a defensive when his party’s ex-minister Krishna Yadav’s stamp-paper scandal came to limelight. The Congress and the Left parties seized the initiative to expose the corrupt TDP regime. At that crucial juncture, PWG tried to assassinate Chandrababu at Alipiri. Naidu, who miraculously escaped from the bid, lost no time to utilise the incident to get sympathy among masses and opted for a snap poll and hence the assembly was dissolved.

Both the TDP and the BJP have decided to sail jointly even though both have some differences and dissatisfaction. Initially, the TDP leaders asked the BJP to clarify its position on a separate Telangana. Soon they dropped this question as the BJP emerged victorious in the assembly elections in north India. NDA’s decision to go for early parliamentary polls was welcomed by Babu as he thought early joint elections would further increase his prospects.

Under the poll pact of 1999, the BJP contested 24 of the 294 assembly seats and eight of the 42 Lok Sabha seats. The party bagged 12 assembly and seven Lok Sabha seats.

Buoyed by its recent electoral victories, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has pitched its bargain high this time. It is demanding more assembly and parliament seats in Andhra Pradesh. The BJP’s state leadership is planning to seek as many as 100 assembly and 15 Lok Sabha seats from its ally, the ruling TDP. The idea is to make a coalition BJP-TDP coalition government inevitable in both the state as well as at the Centre against Naidu’s line of supporting from outside.

Right from the beginning Naidu coined the slogan of development. He emphasised that he stood for development and Naxalism stood as a hurdle for that and all opposition parties were being opportunist by supporting naxalites. He is asking the people to give a mandate in favour of TDP to eradicate Naxalism and the opportunism of the opposition parties. He is blasting the Congress for joining hands with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) which is trying to split the Telugu speaking brethren of the state. He is lambasting CPI, and CPI(M) which had long adhered to the stand of Visal Andhra, of giving up ethics for the sake of a few seats.

An understanding between Congress, CPI, CPI(M), TRS and Majlis Ittehadul Mussalmin (MIM) is developing. All these parties are against division of the opposition votes. Already the process for seat sharing talks has started among these parties. The Congress as well as the Left feel that it is very much necessary to have the support of the TRS which is championing the cause of a separate Telangana State.

The CPI(M) in A.P. is opposed to a separate Telengana as part of their all-India policy of opposition to the creationof small states but it is opportunistically trying for an adjustment with the TRS.

The PWG has this time openly announced that it would prevent TDP and BJP candidates from campaigning and allow only the opposition candidates to do so. There is nothing new in this. During every election the opportunist PWG indirectly supports the bourgeois opposition party, whether Congress or TDP, but this time they are doing it openly. Chandrababu Naidu’s main poll plank is against Naxalism and the alleged collusion between the opposition Congress-TRS and Naxalites.

Chandrababu’s aspirations of reaping fruits from the Alipiri assassination attempt and his virulent campaign against the PWG seems to have boomeranged. TDP and BJP leaders in PWG areas, mostly in Telangana, have started submitting their resignations due to PWG threat. The PWG has issued an ultimatum to TDP-BJP leaders to stay away from active politics. In Adilabad alone they have listed 200 TDP-BJP leaders and asked them to resign from their positions. The cycle rally of Chandrababu at Kothagudem of Khammam district as a part of Jenda panduga (flag-hoisting festival) could not draw the masses. In many villages, flags were not hoisted. This situation prevails in almost all PWG-dominated areas. In the wake of a TDP leader Kishanji’s killing at Rayapolu village of Ibrahimpatnam mandal in Rangareddy district, Naidu visited the village and stated before the presspersons that he recognised the need for arming civilians to meet the Naxalite threat. This announcement has drawn an all-out condemnation.

Even in the Coastal districts, which were strongholds of TDP, there have been dissentions and dissatisfactions among the TDP leaders. It is not a cakewalk for Babu this time. Jenda panduga public meeting at Vijayawada too proved to be a flop.

The TDP has a well-oiled machinery to rig elections. There were complaints of the TDP manipulating the voter-list by including fictitious names. Naidu's gameplan of enrolling bogus voters was also exposed and there was a movement and pressure by the opposition parties to remove the bogus voters from the lists. Ultimately, at the intervention of the Election Commission names of 92.8 lakhs bogus voters were removed. This also shocked Babu as the difference of votes in the last elections between the Congress and the TDP was only around 3%. It is a tough time for Babu in this elections and political analysts say that it might be a hung assembly this time. It is too early to predict however. Anyway, Telangana region which holds 107 assembly and 16 Lok Sabha seats will play a crucial role in the coming elections.

It is unfortunate that CPI and CPI(M) have sacrificed the glorious 9-party Left movement in the state for a few seats by joining hands with the Congress in the name of avoiding a split in the opposition votes. On the other hand 5 Left parties, viz., CPI(ML) Liberation, MCPI, COC-CPI(ML), SUCI, and ML Committee have joined hands with the slogan of independent Left assertion and are going to contest around 60 Assembly seats and 5 Parliament seats. q