C Pradeep Kumar
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has struggled to garner the support of its cadre since the arrest and remand of their party chief, Chandrababu Naidu. TDP sources indicate that there are approximately 70 lakh TDP cadre spread across Andhra Pradesh, and a noticeable void has emerged during the party’s protests following Naidu’s arrest.
From the outset, when Naidu was brought to Vijayawada after being arrested in Nandyal, there was a conspicuous absence of vocal protest from TDP cadre, with only a few exceptions in some areas.
Even during the various innovative protests organised by Naidu’s family members, such as ‘Motha Mogiddam,’ ‘Kanthi tho Kranthi,’ and the recent ‘Nyayaniki Sankillu’ protest on Sunday, there has been a significant dearth of party cadre participation, despite the party’s substantial cadre presence at the village level.
Only a handful of party leaders have been visible for photo opportunities. Even the weekend protest led by IT employees in Hyderabad did not yield the results the TDP had anticipated.
The reluctance of the TDP cadre to engage in protests against the State government underscores a leadership gap. For a significant portion of the past 35 days, Naidu’s son and party general secretary, Lokesh, has been in the national capital, New Delhi, which has been a significant setback for the opposition party in terms of leading any movement.
Political analysts point out that the grassroots-level party cadre are apprehensive about participating in protest activities, fearing arrest, with concerns about who would come to their aid if they were detained.
There has been speculation in the media that the TDP leaders created hype by suggesting that prominent Supreme Court advocates arriving in Vijayawada would secure Chandrababu Naidu’s bail promptly. This turned out to be a major disappointment and setback for the opposition party’s leaders and cadre. Even after 35 days, Naidu, who is in remand at the Rajahmundry Central prison, has not received any court relief, despite the efforts of renowned advocates.
Notably, TDP chief family members raised concerns about Chandrababu Naidu’s health, citing sudden weight loss, steroid use, and jail facilities, but this also proved to be a setback. A team of five government hospital doctors clarified that Naidu did not require hospitalization, and he had gained weight since his detention, with no steroid use. Despite the TDP’s efforts to raise awareness about Chandrababu’s arrest in the skill development scam, everything seems to be failing, and the public has once again dealt a blow to the TDP. The ‘Nyayaniki Sankillu’ protest, meant to show solidarity with Chandrababu, was an utter failure, with minimal public response. People largely remained indoors, and only a few were seen on their balconies.
In Visakhapatnam, Lokesh’s statements regarding Babu’s arrest were largely disregarded, and people seemed to mockingly show support for the accused. Even 50 TDP workers were conspicuously absent from an event attended by Achchennaidu himself.