Kommineni Srinivasa Rao
The people of Telugu States witnessed a peculiar incident in the election campaign, in which Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu and Congress president Rahul Gandhi shared a stage. Interestingly, Rahul Gandhi did not even mention the names of former Congress Chief Ministers in his address. On the other side, Chandrababu tried to convey that he had to work along with the Congress in the interests of the nation, despite hurling hate speeches against each other over the years.
By doing so, the two parties have shown that politics is all about opportunism. By praising Chandrababu on the occasion, Rahul Gandhi failed to inspire the Congress cadre by not mentioning the names of former CMs from Telangana Marri Chenna Reddy, former PM PV Narasimha Rao, Jalagam Vengal Rao, Anjaiah and Boorgula Ramakrishna Rao, not to speak of late Dr YS Rajesekhara Reddy, Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy and Kasu Brahmananda Reddy.
Also, there was no mention of the former Congress CMs in the party's official advertisements, in which late CM NTR's photo was included. Although the Chandrababu-Rahul Gandhi meet in Khammam was a historic event, it would be seen on December 11 whether the meet was a climax or an anti-climax.
Nevertheless, it has to be understood that the Congress and TDP strategically chose Khammam as the location for the meeting. The Khammam district was relatively less active during the Telangana agitation. Also, the TRS party did not have a strong base in the district until it formed the government.
The Congress, TDP and the Communist parties have a strong footing in Khammam district. The caste equations and the district's proximity to Andhra Pradesh influence political activity in the district. The TDP pinned high hopes on Khammam in the upcoming elections.
While the TDP's former Parliamentary party leader Nama Nageshwar Rao is contesting for Assembly this time around, Congress working president Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka also represents the district from Madhira constituency. The Congress and TDP decided to hold the meeting in Khammam in view of the scope for easy gathering of people.
However, it appears that Chandrababu and Rahul Gandhi failed to convince the people on the reason for their alliance. Chandrababu repeated his usual complaint over the CBI, IT and ED attacks on the TDP leaders. But, Chandrababu did not explain as to why the probing agencies should not conduct the raids. Does Chandrababu mean to say that TDP MPs Sujana Choudhary and CM Ramesh were found innocent and that the CBI should not file cases over the leaders? Even the Congress president did not give an explanation over the raids.
Chandrababu resorted to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi over demonetization and GST whereas Rahul Gandhi did not mention the demonetization exercise. The TDP chief did not give a direct reply to KCR's allegations over Chandrababu's letters to the Centre against the Telangana irrigation projects. The Congress leaders have acted as if they had forgotten Chandrababu's blatant attacks on Sonia and Rahul over the bifurcation. Over the years, Chandrababu time and again criticized the Congress in his Nava Nirmaana Deeksha's in protest against the Congress's betrayal.
The highlight of the meeting was that leaders of the Congress and TDP had behaved as if they had the answers to the people's suspicion over the alliance. While Chandrababu termed the alliance as a historical compulsion, Rahul Gandhi's speech had no mention of the reason for the alliance. Nama Nageshwar Rao and Malla Bhatti Vikramarka explained Chandrababu's contribution towards the State formation.
One would wonder why a person who has worked immensely for Telangana formation could condemn the bifurcation when it comes to the interests of Andhra Pradesh. How could Chandrababu felicitate the NGO leaders who worked in the Samaikhyandra movement?
The Congress, CPI and TDP leaders, Manda Krishna Madiga and Gaddar condemned KCR's autocratic rule. Do they mean to support Chandrababu's undemocratic governance? Manda Krishna Madiga seemed to have gone too far in praising Chandrababu while waging a verbal against KCR.
Surprisingly, Manda Krishna Madiga did not follow the stand of the Dalits in Andhra Pradesh, who are batting for the reorganization of the SCs to prevent the dominance of the Mala community. Did Manda Krishna Madiga forget the cause for which he protested in Amaravati's National Highway? Or did he forget everything after supoorting the people's front?
Revolutionary singer Gaddar surprised everyone by terming Chandrababu and Rahul Gandhi as protectors of democracy. Everyone is aware of Gaddar's popular songs against Chandrababu's government when he was attacked in a naxal attack. Was it the case that Gaddar termed Chandrababu the democracy's saviour due to the illegal deception of 23 YSRCP MLAs into the TDP? Or did he feel so due to the blacking out of certain TV channels?
It appears that Chandrababu's opting out of the NDA after four years of being in the alliance seemed to be a democratic activity to Gaddar. It surely is surprising that Gaddar found Chandrababu a saviour of democracy even after the TDP MPs were found guilty in the recent CBI raids.
On the whole, it appeared that Gaddar and others present at the meeting did not speak their heart out but had used the occasion as a means to attack their political opponents. The question on whether Rahul Gandhi was comfortable sitting next to Chandrababu seems to be unanswered. It may be recalled that Chandrababu was a usual attacker of late CM Dr YSR. Whether the Congess and TDP leaders share the same feeling as that of their leaders is to be seen in the days ahead.