Chandrababu Naidu weaving grand alliance in Andhra politics (News Analysis)July 22nd, 2008 - 5:38 pm ICT by IANS
By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, July 22 (IANS) The political crisis in New Delhi has come as a blessing in disguise for Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president N. Chandrababu Naidu, who not only re-emerged as kingmaker in the national political arena but is also weaving a new grand alliance in Andhra Pradesh politics. Facing the biggest challenge of his political life due to desertion by top TDP leaders to join the proposed party by popular Telugu actor Chiranjeevi, Naidu was clueless a few days ago.
The decision of Samajwadi Party to back the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government following the withdrawal of support by the Left parties had sounded a death knell for United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA), a grouping of regional parties of which Naidu is the convenor.
The move by Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was heading UNPA, dealt a blow to Naidu’s efforts to build a third alternative. The TDP leaders had privately dubbed it United Non-Performing Alliance (UNPA) as it came after Jayalalitha’s AIADMK and Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference pulled out.
But the events subsequent to the Samajwadi Party’s move came as a pleasant surprise for Naidu, who left for New Delhi last week in the midst of his state-wide ‘yatra’ or tour to prepare the ground for next year’s elections to the state assembly and Lok Sabha.
His efforts to mobilise support of smaller parties against the UPA government yielded rich dividends and, in one stroke, he had Left parties, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and even his bitter enemy in state politics Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) by his side.
Irrespective of the result of confidence motion, it is a win-win situation for Naidu, who appears to be succeeding in evolving a third front along with the Left parties, who were hitherto lukewarm to his initiative.
Known as a shrewd politician, Naidu backed BSP chief Mayawati as the prime ministerial candidate to build bridges with the communist parties and managed to bring BSP towards UNPA.
Political analysts feel that Naidu could now have a grand alliance with Left parties, TRS and BSP to pose a big challenge to both the ruling Congress and Chiranjeev’s party, which is likely to be launched next month. Both the Left parties and TRS were allies of Congress party in 2004 elections.
The analysts said Naidu’s move in backing a Dalit as prime ministerial candidate is a calculated move to win back the support of Dalits in the state.
The scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, backward classes and minorities, which together constitute more than 70 percent of the state’s 77 million population and the Congress had got their backing in the last elections.
“The alliance with BSP will also help us get the votes of Dalits and minorities,” said a TDP leader.
As a first attempt to get a foothold in Andhra Pradesh politics and replicate Uttar Pradesh formula, Mayawati had addressed a public meeting here in January.
TDP leaders claim that the party succeeded in winning back the confidence of minorities after it snapped ties with BJP following 2004 elections.
The proposed alliance has rekindled hopes in TDP, which was facing a serious crisis even as some political pundits forecast that the main battle in the next elections would be between Congress and Chiranjeev’s party.
A major success of Naidu would be making the Left parties part of a grand alliance in the state. Both CPI and CPI-M have some strongholds in the state and their joining hands with TDP for next election could be a big boon for the latter.
The attempts to bring down the UPA government also brought Naidu closer to his arch rival K. Chandrasekhara Rao’s TRS, which is fighting for separate statehood to Telangana region and has vowed revenge against Congress for its “betrayal” on the issue.
Naidu, who was chief minister from 1995 to 2004, is opposed to bifurcation of the state, and the animosity between the two leaders was well known ever since Rao quit TDP to float TRS in 2000. But the political compulsions brought them closer.
By stating that he is not against separate Telangana state and aligning with TRS, Naidu hopes to regain lost ground in Telangana and neutralise the Nava Telangana Praja Party launched by T. Devender Goud after quitting TDP last month.
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