With 2019 elections knocking at the door, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Nara Chandrababu Naidu, appears to be a worried man. And he has every reason to be worried. The chief minister reportedly admonished TDP MPs who were seen in a video which went viral, making fun of critical issues related to AP, including the Kadapa steel plant and a railway zone, among others. While Chandrababu Naidu blamed the opposition for what he termed was a doctored video, there were hardly any takers for his argument. Hands on their hearts, even TDP workers may look the other way if you repeat his allegation. Blame it on the opposition is his new mantra, but he sounds so hollow and unconvincing that his partymen prefer to forget episodes such as the video incident, hoping that it would soon fade away from public memory.
In truth, the video did not come as a shock to anyone familiar with the TDP's casual, cavalier attitude on most key issues concerning Andhra Pradesh. To make matters worse, prolonged 'fasting' by the TDP Rajya Sabha MP, CM Ramesh seemed to have turned his party's 'struggle' into a farce, with senior leaders like Mothkupalli Narsimhulu ridiculing it. Mothkupalli cheekily said that such 'fasts' could be carried out for a lifetime.
What has been missing in Chandrababu's hi-tech rule, is governance. Transparency has been the biggest casualty in most matters and the bane of nepotism seems to have gripped the AP CM, more firmly than ever before. Caste-driven politics and corrupt cronyism have led to pervasive discontent against the TDP.
Similarly, Chandrababu's flip-flops on Special Category Status to the state, for instance, have been documented in great detail.
The controversies surrounding Amaravati, beginning with location of the capital, to acquisition of land, to the Swiss Challenge method and the Singapore consortium, made the world sit up and take notice of the venality underpinning the TDP rule in the state. Polavaram and Pattiseema, rumours of kickbacks in practically all major deals, land-grabbing scandals, controversy surrounding the TTD shrine and priceless jewelry of Lord Venkateswara, sand mining syndicates--cataloguing the scams which have become the subject of debate, is an arduous exercise in itself. Added to widespread rumours of scandals, is the public anger against his failure to fulfill election promises including important ones like loan waivers to farmers and DWCRA groups, creating employment through attracting large-scale investments.
The palpable, widespread resentment against the TDP government should certainly be a matter of concern to Chandrababu Naidu. In contrast, the swelling tide of popularity sweeping across the state in favour of Leader of Opposition in AP and YSRCP chief, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, seems to have sent the ruling party into a state of near-panic. The statements of TDP worthies, led by their nervous leader reveal a state of mind struck by fear psychosis.
Meanwhile YS Jagan's mass contact initiative, Praja Sankalpa Yatra has been gaining in strength and momentum. YS Jagan's padayatra is a mass movement today and as it sweeps through the state, one can see history being scripted in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Never before have people thronged to the rallies and meetings of a leader on this scale. And no walkathon has evoked the sort of overwhelming response Praja Sankalpa Yatra has. The personal touch which YS Jagan lends to his interaction with people, the extra mile he walks literally, and figuratively, and the patience he demonstrates in reaching out to those who seek his attention to narrate their tales of sorrow, all these factors have endeared him even more to the people of the state.
The writing on the wall is clear--TDP faces a wipe-out in the upcoming elections, as the nervousness of its leaders illustrates. Chandrababu's machinations and his politics of manipulation seem to have hit a dead-end now. Even while he pleads with people to give him another opportunity to give him 25 MPs, he knows he will be lucky to get anywhere near a fifth of that number. Chandrababu and his outfit are heading towards a clear drubbing at the hustings in 2019.