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Naidu likely to face tough questions during padyatra

Last updated on: October 3, 2012 14:29 IST

Naidu likely to face tough questions during padyatra

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Vicky Nanjappa

Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, who has embarked on a padyatra to revive his sagging political career, should ready for some tough questions from the rural popuation, says Vicky Nanjappa

Known as a high-tech chief minister and sarcastically as a chief minister of only Hyderabad, Telugu Desam Party supremo Chandrababu Naidu has embarked upon a 117-day 'Vastunna Meekosam' padayatra, which is considered to be his final bid to make a comeback after power has eluded him for nearly a decade.

Many would argue that recent events such as Telangana, and persons such as the late YS Rajasekara Reddy and his son Jaganmohan Reddy have kept Naidu out of contention and has made him an obscure face.

With this padyatra, Naidu is looking to redeem his political career, by interacting one-on-one with the public in rural Andhra Pradesh during his march. He was chief minister for nearly nine years, but the question is, do the people still remember him?

Many will say that though they do remember his face, they cannot recall anything he did for rural Andhra Pradesh, which will be the deciding factor in the election.

Free power is the major issue that he will have to address in order to convince the farmer community of AP. While Naidu seeks to strike a chord with the state's rural population, the first question that he would have to answer is why he never bothered to tour the rest of the state during his time as chief minister.

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Image: Telugu Desam Party supremo Chandrababu Naidu at the launch of his padyatra
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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YSR managed to come back for a second term

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The other question is: Why was all the employment created in Hyderabad and not in the rest of the state?

Free power to the farmers was probably the biggest factor that brought Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy to power. In 2004, when Reddy took out a march, he had assured the farmers of free power.

However, Naidu, who was the chief minister then, not only increased the price of power, but also ridiculed Reddy's claim regarding free power. Naidu argued that the power sector would collapse and all the electric cables in the state would 'only be fit to dry clothes'.

This was something that did not go down too well with the farming community in particular, and Naidu was voted out of power. When the power tariff was hiked, there was a major protest in Hyderabad, and subsequently, three people lost their lives in police firing.

YSR, however, capitalised on the situation, came to power, gave out free power and managed to come back for a second term.

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Image: The late YSR

Tags: Naidu , YSR , Reddy , Hyderabad

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Given the current scenario, Naidu's chances are bleak

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The other major error on Naidu's part was not going by what NT Rama Rao, the founder of his party, had promised. NTR, one of Andhra's biggest cult figures, had assured rice at Rs 2 per kg. However, when Naidu was in power, rice was being sold at around Rs 5 per kg. YSR took a leaf out of this too and managed to introduce rice at Rs 2 per kg.

In addition to this Naidu has a lot more to answer for: The selling of many public sector companies to private players, and also why his entire focus was only on Hyderabad and the creation of Cyberabad alone.

The other important aspect is how much of a part will the caste factor matter during the elections. Naidu belongs to the Kamma caste which is considered to be a business community. They would want Naidu to be in power, but they have often voted for a party which is more likely to come to power.

Given the current scenario, Naidu's chances are bleak. It would have been a different story if he had to battle the Congress alone and could have hoped that the anti-incumbency factor would come into play.

Moreover, he has another opponent in the form of the YSR Congress led by Jagan Reddy who, for the time being, is looking to be a very strong player.

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Image: YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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The Telangana dilemma

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Will Naidu capitalise on the Telangana issue? Even if he does, will the people of Telangana trust him?

Naidu commenced his Telangana journey from Mehboobnagar, and even in this region, he has plenty to answer. If he goes all out on the issue, he risks angering the rest of the state. But if he doesn't take a stand, Telangana will run him completely out of contention in the region.

Naidu has made many critical blunders on the Telangana issue. He has remained non-committal and has always said that he would give some clarity on the issue "soon".

On one hand he demanded an immediate resolution of the issue, and on the other he wrote to the prime minister stating that everyone needs to be taken into consideration. When the famous December 9 statement favouring the formation of Telangana was made, Naidu was the first to question it, seeking to know how such an important decision was taken overnight.


Image: Telangana activists during a protest march in Hyderabad
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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