On Thursday, Chandrababu Naidu will sit on a 12-hour-long deeksha in Vijayawada to protest against the sand shortage in Andhra Pradesh. Why this is important is because the issue pertains not just to the construction industry, it also has implications for the construction of the opposition space in the state. And to reconstruct the structure of the Telugu Desam, in a bad shape after the mauling it received in May 2019.
There have been reports of suicides by construction workers in the last one month. The Telugu Desam has demanded an ex-gratia of Rs 25 lakh to the families of every victim and compensation of Rs 10000 per month to every construction workers who has lost his livelihood in the last five months.
The allegation is that the government’s inability to provide sand has left 30 lakh workers without work. The Jaganmohan Reddy regime says the floods in the Krishna and Godavari prevented them from providing sand and that the situation will be rectified soon.
Earlier this month, Pawan Kalyan conducted a 2 km long `Long March’ in Visakhapatnam to focus on the sand scarcity. Significantly, Naidu ensured TDP participation in the March. Thursday may be payback time. Senior TDP leaders Atchan Naidu and Varla Ramaiah invited Pawan to mark his presence at Naidu’s deeksha on 14 November. The actor-politician could send Jana Sena representatives to the event.
If that happens, it will be significant because in the run-up to the 2019 elections, the YSRCP had labelled Jana Sena as the B-team of the TDP and the Powerstar (as Pawan is called in Tollywood) as `Package Star’. The implication was that Pawan was in politics at Naidu’s behest. If the two come together, it can at least create the optics of a strong opposition, even though inside the Assembly they are hopelessly outnumbered by the YSRCP.
The jugalbandi also provides them with an opportunity to check if the community-based support the two parties get (from the Kammas and Kapus) can actually translate into votes. If the duo decides to collaborate during the local body elections, that may be the first laboratory to check if they can get their chemistry right.