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'Backstabber' Chandrababu proves his worth as NTR's political successor

When N Chanrdababu Naidu led a revolt against his father-in-law N. T. Rama Rao to become the chief minister in August 1994, he had never imagined that a few months later he would have to own the political legacy of the man he was dethroning.
The sudden demise of NTR due to cardiac arrest on January 18, 1995 created an opportunity for Naidu to claim his political legacy and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
Political analysts say had NTR lived for a few more months, Naidus political survival would have been at stake as the TDP patriarch had called him a backstabber and vowed to unmask him.
However, NTRs sudden death paved the way for his son-in-laws political ascent as the latter lost no time in owning his political legacy.
The government headed by Naidu not only conducted NTRs cremation with state honours on the banks of Hussain Sagar lake in the heart of the city but went on a spree to install his statues across the state.
Naidu, who had defended the coup against NTR as a move to save the party from the latters second wife Lakshmi Parvathi, used every occasion after NTRs death to own his political legacy by declaring that NTR will always remain his leader. Naidu claimed NTR had special liking for him. He used to often say that NTR was like his father.
Despite being taunted as backstabber by his political rivals, Naidu successfully carried his political legacy forward and entrenched himself. Even after nearly three decades after NTRs death, Naidu invokes the name of the thespian to strike an emotional chord with the Telugu people.
Naidu, who turned 73 last month, proved to be more worthy as NTRs political successor. As the longest serving chief minister of united Andhra Pradesh, he left an indelible mark with his economic reforms, visionary approach, pro-development and tech-savvy image.
Chandrababu Naidu had his own style of administration, and hardly walked the welfare path taken by NTR in his times, said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.
With his initiatives, Naidu had placed Hyderabad on the world map by promoting information technology. Even his worst critics admit that the credit of developing Hyderabad as a global IT destination and a city with world-class infrastructure goes to Naidu.
By promoting world-class educational and research institutes in Hyderabad, he gave thrust to the knowledge economy.
NTR had played a key role in uniting anti-Congress parties and Naidu as his political successor carried the task forward. As the convenor of the United Front (UF) he brought together regional parties to prop up coalition government with the outside support of Congress in 1996. In 1999, he donned a similar role for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
A shrewd politician, Naidu was also seen as rank opportunist as he aligned with the BJP, apparently to ride on the Vajpayee wave. He succeeded in not only retaining power in the state but with 29 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats from Andhra Pradesh played the role of a kingmaker at the Centre.
Then known as the poster boy of new economic reforms, a reformist and a tech-savvy leader, Naidu mastered the skills of doing business with any formation at the Centre, irrespective of its ideology.
After losing power to his bete noire Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR) in 2004 following a record nine-year stint as Andhra Pradesh chief minister, Naidu admitted his priorities were lop-sided which led to the neglect of agriculture in the state.
So he promised a slew of freebies in the 2009 elections, but the people remained unconvinced and gave YSR a fresh mandate.
Chandrababu Naidu was always seen and possibly behaved as a leader who is focused on faster industrial/ technology development in the region. In the process, his focus got restricted to very specified geographies within the erstwhile unified Andhra Pradesh and the present day Andhra Pradesh State. While his primary administrative focus remained on Hyderabad from 1995-2004; it remained mostly on Amaravati between 2014-2019, observed Raghavendra Reddy.
Naidu never focused on decentralised development, and possibly believed in the trickle down effect, thus putting great emphasis on Capital cities, he said
The emergence of Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate in 2014 offered Naidu a chance to revive his political fortunes.
He not only joined the NDA once again but by campaigning with Modi, he succeeded in storming to power in the truncated state of Andhra Pradesh, as people preferred him, apparently for his experience in developing Hyderabad as a tech hub.
As a leader who always enjoyed the role of a kingmaker and extracted his pound of flesh from the government at the Centre, Naidu was uncomfortable in the new dispensation where Modi had absolute majority.
Though facing post-bifurcation challenges like lack of state capital and poor finances, he had no option, but to quietly accept whatever was doled out to the state.
However, it was when YSRs son and the chief of the YSRCP Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy started targeting him for his compromise over the Special Category Status (SCS) that Naidu realised how he was losing the ground to the opposition. In 2018, he pulled out of the NDA government accusing Modi of betrayal.
From a great admirer of Modi, Naidu soon turned into his worst critic and even joined hands with the Congress, his partys sworn enemy of 35 years. This was Naidus biggest political misadventure.
His experiment ended in a disaster with the Congress-led United Peoples Alliance (UPA) biting the dust.
Ironically, Naidu began his political career with the Congress party. At the age of 28, he was elected to Assembly from Chandragiri constituency in his native district Chittoor and became a minister in the state cabinet (1980-83).
When his father-in-law and popular actor NTR floated TDP, Naidu was with the Congress and had even thrown a challenge at the former. The TDP wave in 1983 nearly wiped out Congress and Naidu too failed to get re-elected to the Assembly.
Later, NTR admitted Naidu into TDP and since then he never looked back. Making a modest beginning in NTR dominant TDP, he climbed to the position of party general secretary.
In 1995, a few months after NTR led TDP back to power with a landslide victory, Naidu staged a revolt against father-in-law to become chief minister. NTRs children backed Naidu as they were also unhappy over growing interference by his second wife Lakshmi Parvathi in administration and party affairs.

Sunday, May 28, 2023 at 5:41 am

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