The people in Andhra Pradesh may well feel that many of the deals that the TDP government signed need scrutiny and that there may have been corruption in some, but action against Naidu and the TDP alone is not going to be enough to prevent from disillusionment setting in.
The more things change the more they remain the same. This aphorism is true about politics and governance all over the country, but this week more evidence of it came from Andhra Pradesh.
A few months ago the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) was routed in the assembly elections and Jaganmohan Reddy's YSRCP romped to power. Since then TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu has been down in the dumps with many party leaders quitting and morale of the cadre at a worrying low. That changed thanks to the Jagan government throwing him a lifeline by taking him, his son Nara Lokesh and some other senior Leaders into preventive custody to prevent them from launching a protest.
The provocation may have been the alleged violence against the TDP cadre and sympathisers in the Palnadu region of AP, but the ham-handed house detention of Naidu (even his staff were not allowed inside) gave the wily veteran just the opportunity he needed to generate media attention and try to claim some sympathy alleging vendetta.
Indeed after the Praja Vedike building in Amravathi, built by Naidu during his stint in office, was demolished by the Jagan government there was no let-up in the government's pressure on Naidu. Many deals signed by Naidu while he was CM have been under scrutiny and some of them have been cancelled. While this may have slowed these projects, Jagan seemed to be prepared to take that risk and the charge of vendetta politics in his attempt to nail the TDP boss.
The scenes on TV of Naidu in his car not being allowed to leave his residence by the police have been seen across AP and by preventing him from even leaving for Atmakur for his rally, an unhealthy precedent has been set. A legitimate political protest should have been allowed and if the government apprehended any law and order issue it could have detained him once he reached Atmakur. Naidu himself, though, is no saint and his shenanigans when in power were designed to weaken the YSRCP, through methods that have not always been above board.
For Naidu, after his decision to leave the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), his troubles have mounted steadily. He possibly gambled on a non-BJP government coming to power at the Centre where he could continue to have an influence. At the very least he would have hoped for the BJP to form a government with the help of allies and in such a scenario he could have ingratiated himself back into the good books of the NDA. However, the brute majority the BJP got meant that he could face more troubled times.
With Jagan in no position to defy the BJP thanks to the slew of CBI cases he still faces and so, willing to play along with them on most issues, the challenge for Naidu is huge. Reports of Naidu having told leaders of his party that he would patch up with the BJP soon are also doing the rounds. Indeed, the TDP supported the abrogation of Article 370 (as did the YSRCP).
For Jagan, his inexperience in handling the situation was made apparent as the police went overboard in its attempts to prevent the Atmakur rally from happening. The TDP needed a branch to cling on to in its efforts to make a comeback and Jagan just provided them one.
People in Andhra Pradesh may well feel that many of the deals that the TDP government signed need scrutiny and that there may have been corruption in some, but action against Naidu and the TDP alone is not going to be enough to prevent from disillusionment setting in.
Jagan has announced a slew of welfare measures and with the economy in the doldrums, one wonders where he will find the money to fund them. He has not made much noise on the issue of special status for Andhra Pradesh since he took over as CM and given his situation he knows well that he cannot afford to.
For now, the BJP holds all the aces in Andhra Pradesh. By allowing Jagan to ratchet up the pressure on Naidu the national party can expect the TDP leader to make a beeline back to the NDA at some stage should it want him back for whatever reason. At the same time, Jagan is also in a position where he has to agree with most things the Centre says, as otherwise the CBI could start taking a keen interest in the cases pending against him. The BJP will use this opportunity to try to weaken both parties to the extent possible as it tries to build its base in Andhra Pradesh. For now, it is advantage Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.Sumanth Raman is a Chennai-based television anchor and political analyst. Views are personal.Get access to India's fastest growing financial subscriptions service Moneycontrol Pro for as little as Rs 599 for first year. Use the code "GETPRO". Moneycontrol Pro offers you all the information you need for wealth creation including actionable investment ideas, independent research and insights & analysis For more information, check out the Moneycontrol website or mobile app.