Kommineni Srinivasa Rao

It is sad to see the inexorable descent of TDP politics. The values for which the party was formed by legendary actor NTR, are being systematically eroded by the present leadership of the party. NTR had launched the TDP for self-respect and self confidence. Today, under Chandrababu Naidu's leadership, the party is not ashamed to barter these two core values for political expediency. A case in point is the latest flurry of defections.

"Chandrababu Naidu is a cheat. He is a betrayer. He is inhuman." These were the comments of Paderu MLA Giddi Eswari, who defected a few days ago from the YSRCP into the TDP. Despite these comments, she managed to enter the TDP. A video of her explaining why she chose to ditch YSRCP for TDP shows her blatant admission that she was offered minister's post or ST corporation chairperson's post so that she can get work done. During the anti-Bauxite mining stir, she called for Chandrababu Naidu's head and the Government slapped a treason case on her.

Chandrababu Naidu has made very demeaning comments about those in the YSRCP and has no qualms about admitting into TDP shamelessly. This is politics devoid of values. One cannot understand why Chandrababu Naidu, who has over four decades of experience in politics, is stooping so low. Is this the Telugu self-respect that he is talking about?

When NTR launched the TDP, he gave a clarion call for protecting Telugu self-respect. Those were the days when the Telugus felt that Rajiv Gandhi had hurt Telugu pride by insulting the then CM Anjaiah. The people backed NTR's call, but not his son-in-law. He fought as a Congress candidate. He had even said that he would contest against NTR if the party asks him to do. He lost the elections in 1983, but managed to take over the TDP gradually.

Back then, NTR had insisted that those joining the party must resign from their elected posts and get re-elected. Under Chandrababu Naidu, this insistence has simply gone missing. He does not think twice even to admit those who hurled invectives and even expletives at him.

After Congress (I) came to power in 1978, as many as 80 MLAs had moved into the party. when NTR launched the TDP, he barely had two MLAs. But he could come to power winning 200 seats in 1983. When NTR was in the Opposition in 1994, the party's deputy floor leader Raghuma Reddy had crossed over to the Congress. Yet, the TDP could come back to power. When Chandrababu Naidu was in the opposition, several of his party MLAs used to criticise him openly. As many as 40 persons left the party. Now, Chandrababu is back at the helm as the CM of truncated Andhra Pradesh.

Why is Chandrababu Naidu, who is aware of all these developments, still shelling out crores of rupees to buy Opposition MLAs? Why is he garnering the ignominy of encouraging defections? Is engineering defections a must to win the next elections? Chandrababu Naidu seems to be dogged by the fear of losing the next round of elections. It is clear that he clearly lacks the confidence and self-respect that YS Jagan -- a politician much younger than him -- has. YS Jagan needs to be complimented for making those who want to join his party, resign their positions of power first.

It is quite clear that Chandrababu-led TDP has lost its self-confidence and also self-respect. It wants to retain power at any cost. Let's hope that notwithstanding Chandrababu Naidu losing his confidence, the Telugus would not forfeit their self-confidence and self -respect.