Sunday, May 26, 2024

Ratna Column : Why 2024 is ‘Do or die’ battle for Chandrababu

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The 2024 electoral battle is going to present a ‘do or die’ situation for Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo and Leader of the Opposition in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly N. Chandrababu Naidu, going by his own assessment. He appears reconciled to the situation, on which his political future hinges.

Interestingly, four political outfits, including the ruling party and the principal opposition party, are preparing themselves and approaching the electorate. With a renewed agenda, each of them is imploring the electorate to give it a chance (‘one’/ ‘second’/ ‘last’ as the case may be) to rule the state.

The Jana Sena Party (JSP) is requesting people to give it an opportunity to rule the state with a somewhat different ideology that brings cheer to people. The ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) is confident of getting a second opportunity to rule the state, given the state government’s populist schemes. The YSRCP government is confident of getting votes as it has disbursed more than Rs.1.5 lakh crore rupees to tens of thousands of beneficiaries of various welfare schemes across the state. About 87% of the state’s population are beneficiaries of its welfare schemes.

The ruling party is banking heavily on the ‘Navaratnas’ among its welfare schemes. Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy is confident about returning to power. The system of volunteers has taken the administration to the doorstep of people.

So, Chandrababu Naidu is facing a peculiar situation in challenging the YSRC. The ruling party has been drawing attention to Chandrababu’s age and highlighting how Jagan, in contrast, is preparing to rule the state for three decades uninterruptedly (Jagan too would become an octogenarian thereafter).

Striking an emotional chord with people, Naidu has been asserting that Andhra Pradesh would be in peril if the Telugu Desam Party is not voted to power. He is pointing to the debt trap in which the state is caught due to the misrule of YSRC. He has been highlighting the point that the YSRC government has borrowed a whopping Rs. 4 lakh crore. The YSRC government is at pains to counter that some other states like Maharashtra had borrowed far more than AP.

It is in this context that Chandrabau Naidu bared his innermost feelings before people at Kurnool recently and mentioned that the 2024 elections would be the last one for him if TDP is not voted to power. For good measure, he added that AP, destroyed by YSRC, needs TDP to mend matters.

Naturally, the cadre of TDP were taken aback at Chandrababu Naidu’s significant statement. People read it as his appeal for giving him a last chance. Thus, we have JSP and BJP seeking one chance, YSRCP seeking one more chance, and TDP seeking last chance.

JSP chief Pawan Kalyan has stated that they won’t give room for splitting anti-YSRCP votes at any cost. This caused a flutter among leaders and cadre of the ruling party, which then dared Pawan Kalyan to contest the next elections on his own without having truck with any other party.

Given the consent letter that Chandrababu Naidu had written to the Government of India prior to the bifurcation of undivided AP, people know the indirect role that he had played in the bifurcation of a Telugu state that had existed for 58 years. People also believe that Jagan’s exit from the Congress had led to this entire episode as the Congress’ leadership got scared about the future of the party in unified AP. BJP, which had originally opposed creation of Telangana, endorsed the idea of statehood for TS subsequently with a view to get hold on the new state.

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