Kommineni Srinivasa Rao

They say that anything can happen in politics. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is known for his chameleon-like shifts when it comes to his political stance. His recent message to well-known actor and the founder of the newest party on the Tamil Nadu political scene, Kamal Haasan, appears to be an interesting one. It also gives rise to some speculation.

It is customary to greet a friend or acquaintance in the domain of politics as well, but the statements made by Chandrababu Naidu and the response elicited from Kamal Haasan send out signals of a different kind altogether. It is an open secret by now that there are clear differences between Chandrababu and Prime Minister Modi on some issues. Barring the TDP chief, most of his partymen have caused a lot of damage to the prestige of the PM and the BJP leadership. The political war between TDP and BJP in Andhra Pradesh has intensified in recent days. It is against this backdrop that the decision to snap ties with the other party could be initiated either by Chandrababu or Modi.

However, since these political parties have not shown any adherence to values, both parties have their ministers at the Central and state levels. Neither BJP has withdrawn its ministers from the TDP government, nor has the TDP done so in the case of the NDA government. While it appears that the TDP-BJP alliance may come to an end, the likelihood of some anti-BJP parties roping in Chandrababu Naidu to a wider alliance seems likely. It may be recalled that there were reports claiming that the Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray had spoken to Chandrababu Naidu over the phone. Interestingly, the Shiv Sena also has been having problems with the BJP leadership.

Whatever be the veracity of the reports, the TDP denied that there was any truth to this. Earlier, it was reported that before joining the NDA, Chandrababu had a conversation with Nitish Kumar on the phone in which he criticised Modi. This was conveyed to PM Modi by Nitish Kumar, it was reported. This may or may not be true.
Knowing Chandrababu Naidu, there is nothing strange or surprising in any of these developments. Staunch political rivals of the NDA—Arvind Kejriwal and Kerala CM, CPM’s Pinarayi Vijayan have extended their support to Kamal Haasan. They went so far as to participate in the program. Chandrababu did not participate directly and sent his greetings instead. He also gave him some advice which appeared to be interesting. Meanwhile, the BJP has been watching the entire drama unfold.

As a senior chief Minister, Chandrababu may be making his own key moves. On several occasions Chandrababu has bragged that he is senior to Modi in politics. However, the much-coveted position of Prime Minister, as it played out, went to Modi. Now, in the wake of serious differences between the two, Chandrababu's future moves lie in the realm of speculation and the next few months will unravel the puzzle.

Kamal Haasan describing Chandrababu Naidu as a role model and a principled politician has triggered a fresh round of speculation. If indulging in open horse-trading of legislators, political opportunism, shifting one's stance frequently and making impossible promises and commitments, mark the brand of politics which Kamal finds principled and appealing, that only reflects his political maturity.

Kamal says that he seeks to follow Chandrababu. If this is the brand of politics he is planning to adopt, Kamal may need to think again, because he has been harping on value-based politics. At the same time, he wants to follow a leader standing at the other end of the political spectrum as someone who doesn't believe in any values in public life? Will the people of Tamil Nadu accept the kind of politics Chandrababu Naidu is known for? Kamal Haasan is either planning to be another run-of-the-mill politician out to play opportunistic politics or he is someone completely lacking in maturity. Where the truth lies is something time alone will tell.