Chandrababu Naidu government completes four years of rule and enters the final phase of his term that shall have a serious impact on the verdict 2019. It is certainly right moment to take stock of his performance and failures.
Chandrababu Naidu was catapulted to power in the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh with great hopes and expectations. A government is judged not just on performance per se but it would be evaluated against the expectations from it. This is evident from the fact that relatively better performing Chief Ministers also lose the polls whereas less effective CMs retain the mandate.
Therefore, the biggest challenge for Naidu would be to perform up to the expectations.
Chief Minister relatively enjoys better rating as compared to his MLAs and MPs. Many TDP MLAs and MPs face serious anti incumbency. Corruption charges especially allegations of sand mining mafia galore. The children of some of these MLAs and MPs are even going berserk in many constituencies.
In his earlier stint as chief minister in the united state, Naidu was known and even criticised for keeping party aloof from governance. But, now, there is an unprecedented politicisation of governance much to the disadvantage of TDP. There is a wide spread feeling in the party, political circles and even among voters that Naidu is failing to keep a control over the party apparatus. In fact, he succumbed to the party . The janma bhoomi committees let loose on people is an illustration of this. The Janma bhoomi committees comprising mainly of TDP workers decide the beneficiaries of government welfare schemes and even the developmental priorities. There is a simmering anger against these committees.
Chandrababu Naidu has to swim against the electoral arithmetic. The TDP could scrape through in 2014 with a slender margin of only about two percent. The BJP and the Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena were with the TDP . Now , that these two parties taking a strident anti TDP position, Naidu would certainly find it difficult to compensate for the losses. He cannot ally with Congress at least in the pre poll scenario. The left parties especially, the CPI(M) are in no mood to ally with him given his vacillation over the BJP.
Though Naidu launched a blistering campaign over the special status by withdrawing his ministers from Modi ministry followed by the exit from NDA, Naidu’s somersaults on the issue seriously question his commitment and credibility. Will the opposition succeed in exposing Chandrababu Naidu vacillating stand on special status. As the politics of Andhra Pradesh are highly polarised between TDP and YSR Congress and Jagan Mohan Reddy also facing questions on his relations with BJP, Naidu could continue with his self proclaimed crusade over special status.
Kapus are a numerically strong community that has decisive influence in as many as about 40 constituencies. The Kapus voted for TDP in large numbers for the first time in 2014 . The actor turned politician Chiranjeevi, who incidentally belongs to Kapu community formed Praja Rajyam party and merged it with Congress. This fiasco left Kapus annoyed and in the wake of bifurcation anger against Congress, this crucial vote largely shifted to TDP. Naidu’s promise of quotas for them has further helped him to rally Kapus. But, the promise of reservations still remain elusive and the Kapu vote started drifting away from TDP though the party still enjoys support of a majority of this vote.
Several promises of Naidu like the unemployment allowance, industries in every district, tackling the jobs crisis, partial implementation of loan waiver etc. can prove to be challenge.
The spectacular hopes generated by Naidu on building a world class capital in Amravati has certainly helped him to win the mandate. But, nothing seems to be happening on the ground . The Polavaram irrigation project which is claimed to be lifeline of Andhra Pradesh still remains to be completed. But , Naidu is trying hard to covert this threat into an opportunity by appealing to voters that they need to vote for him if the capital, Polavaram and reconstruction of the beleaguered state have to be completed.
The unprecedented focus on capital Amaravati can lead to alienation of voters in Rayalaseema. Region where opposition leader YS Jagan Mohan Reddy enjoys fairly larger support.
The ruling party is also facing groupism in several districts with even his cabinet ministers leading the rival groups. Chandrababu Naidu in a frantic bid to weaken the opposition has encouraged mass defection of MLAs from YSR Congress to TDP . Naidu was only hoping to adjust the old and the new leaders as the number of constituencies would increase as per the state bifurcation Act. But, Modi government failed to yield as the BJP is not going to benefit from the exercise. This makes it difficult for Naidu to accommodate both loyal TDP leaders and the turn-coats. This will further intensify the group rivalry within the party.
( Prof.K. Nageshwar is India’s noted political analyst. He is a former member of the Telangana Legislative Council and professor in the Department of Communication & Journalism, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India )