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The Rediff Special / A Ganesh Nadar in Hyderabad
May 11, 2004
Perhaps the most high-profile chief minister in the country, now on the verge of being ousted from office.
People call him Babu, but he liked to called himself the CEO (as in Chief Executive Officer) of Andhra Pradesh.
But a senior journalist in Hyderabad put it differently. He called Naidu cabinet secretary, director general of police, traffic cop and many more people, all combined in one, referring to his habit of never delegating authority.
Zaheer Ali Khan, editor of the Urdu daily Siyasat, said Naidu is a shrewd politician who is interested in development. Known to be IT-savvy, he chatted with district collectors by video conferencing. Multinational corporations loved him for his investor friendly policies.
On the other hand, farmers felt neglected and many committed suicide due to mounting debts and failed crops. This is possibly the single biggest reason why Naidu and his Telugu Desam Party were vanquished in Andhra Pradesh after nine years in power.
Baharrat, an architect and town planner, felt Naidu was dynamic and enterprising, but lacked a team. Besides, there is no second-in-command in either the Telugu Desam or the government because Naidu feared the fate that befell his predecessor N T Rama Rao, who was also his father-in-law. Naidu overthrew NTR as chief minister and Telugu Desam Party leader with help from party MLAs and their relatives.
Baharrat says Naidu's fear had no foundation because he appeared to enjoy a lot of goodwill.
"But he was not accessible to the masses and is thus unaware of their problems. In his obsession with IT and bio-technology, he forgot the farmers though he himself used to be a farmer," Baharrat told this correspondent in an interview before the results were declared.
He did not pay attention to primary education and his welfare programmes did not reach their intended target.
"He made a lot of arbitrary decisions, which were not explained. Like (developing) Cyberabad. Land prices shot up and proved detrimental to development," Baharrat added.
"He is fascinated with foreigners. Why did he need Singapore to develop Andhra Pradesh? Don't we have enough brains here?" asked the architect.
Former state minister Babu Khan felt Naidu is the most political person he has met in his life. The outgoing chief minister's life revolves around politics and power is all-important for him. He developed the TDP undertaking membership drives and training candidates on how to win support for the party.
"But he is very insecure and has never allowed a second rung leadership to develop in the party," Khan said. "But in a country like India, who will blame him?"
Image: Rahil Shaikh