In the state-wide bandh for Special Category Status in which Andhra Pradesh saw a total shutdown on Monday, two parties were conspicuously absent through their 'active' non-participation. As it turns out, the ruling TDP in the state and its alliance partner at the Centre till very recently, the BJP, are the two prominent absentees. The import of this 'alliance in estrangement' cannot be lost on the discerning observer. The TDP probably thinks that as a party in power it is not its job to either call for or endorse such protests.

Despite repeated pleas from the YSRCP and other opposition parties not to speak of the masses at large, asking the TDP to join the Bandh, the ruling party not only decided to stay away, but worse, the government sent notices to opposition leaders warning them against the Bandh and even cracked down on demonstrators in places.

The BJP has always maintained that it had come good on its promise of a Special Package and that it went the extra mile in supporting AP through special assistance. Chandrababu Naidu, who sang praises of the Special Package given to AP by the Centre, seems to have been beaten back by the blowback on the issue and has been forced to do a U-turn. We now find him paying lip-service to the issue and sensing the mood of the people, trying to take credit for the fight for SCS.

Chandrababu Naidu it appears, has little or no respect for the collective intelligence of society. His latest statement saying that Special Category Status could be achieved if the people of AP elect 25 MPs from his party, is a pointer to this fact. What was he doing all these years? For four long years his party was an ally of the BJP and was a part of the NDA government. He seems to have woken up now and thinks he can position himself as champion of the cause of SCS to the state, little realizing that people see through his deceptive ways.

Chandrababu Naidu's career is dotted with a series of manipulative moves. Right from upstaging his father-in-law, NT Rama Rao in the infamous Hotel Viceroy incident and becoming the chief minister, to heading the United Front and National Front, to walking out of Vajpayee's NDA I to joining the current NDA, politics for him, has been a long sequence of moves on a chessboard. In the bargain, credibility has been a casualty in the case of Chandrababu. What he has not learnt is that people cannot be fooled all the time.

Payback time is here and to ask people for a fresh lease at the hustings is laughable. Asking people of the state to elect 25 TDP MPs in the upcoming elections to achieve Special Category Status is akin to asking people to allow him to take them for a ride yet again.