Kommineni Srinivasa Rao

Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and AP's Deputy Chief Minister KE Krishnamurthy, have completed 40 years of public life as politicians. Let us first extend our greetings to them for this. Had the late Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy been alive today, he would also have completed four decades of public service today. Unfortunately, his untimely demise in a copter crash, cut short a political career which made a firm impression in national politics.

In 1978, Venkaiah Naidu made his debut as an MLA, first on a Janata Party ticket and later as a BJP legislator. Chandrababu Naidu and KE Krishnamurthy were elected on Congress tickets. Venkaiah Naidu remained loyal to the BJP and rose through the ranks of the party to become the country's Vice-President. He held various positions--state president of the BJP, national general secretary and later president of the party, minister in PM Vajpayee's cabinet and later, member of PM Modi's cabinet.

Venkaiah Naidu was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka and Rajasthan four times. This itself is a rare achievement. Much as he wanted to, he could not get elected to Lok Sabha from his home state, but it must be said to his credit that he distinguished himself as a Rajya Sabha member. Unfortunately, Venkaiah Naidu got drawn into controversies and also became a target of criticism, following the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into the Telugu-speaking states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Venkaiah Naidu was also criticised for his proximity to AP Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu. It was also said that the growth of the BJP as a political entity in AP suffered on account of this factor.

Coming to Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, more opportunities probably came his way compared to anyone else. The reasons could be many--his scheming ways, his political opportunism and values, and other factors. Chandrababu had set a record as the longest serving Chief Minister of undivided AP. Similarly, he also set a record as an opposition leader for ten long years.

Perhaps, the single development which changed Chandrababu's fortunes was his marriage to NTR's daughter. He was at the time, a Congress minister. Though he did not join the TDP at the time of its inception, he jumped on to the ruling party's bandwagon once NTR stormed to power riding on a TDP wave. Naidu quickly took control of the newly-founded party. It bears mention here that Chandrababu lost the Chandragiri seat in the 1983 elections which he contested on a TDP ticket.

Naidu shifted to Kuppam constituency in 1989 and has been winning from there consistently. Getting closer to NTR with every passing day, Chandrababu was finally able to dislodge him in 1995. In other words, he had grown to that extent riding on TDP's success. While trusting his son-in-law could be seen as a flaw in NTR's approach, Chandrababu scored over his father-in-law by unseating him without any moral compunction.

If Chandrababu could use the Vajpayee wave to his advantage in 1999, in 2014, after the bifurcation of the state, he got on to the BJP caravan under Modi's leadership, sensing victory. Another achievement of his is the strategic media management. As some say, he is a master of propaganda. Venkaiah Naidu's loyalty to his party proved to be his strength and helped him ascend to greater heights. Chandrababu's success lies in his opportunism, in weighing his options and then choosing a course which would be politically beneficial to him, throwing values to winds. To expect any change in him after four decades of political experience is perhaps too much. As for KE Krishnamurthy, during the course of 40 years of political experience, he crossed over from the Congress to the TDP. After raising a banner of revolt against NTR, he quit the TDP and joined the Congress. He was a parliamentarian and later became a legislator. He rose to become the deputy chief minister of AP. Politically, he has been successful at the district-level.

It is relevant to recall that had the late Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy been alive, his political journey too would have spanned four decades. He had been an MP for four terms and was a six-time MLA. Among all the chief ministers in the history of undivided AP, YSR alone remained undefeated at the hustings. Even the current chief ministers of AP and Telangana faced defeat in the elections at one point.