Chandrababu Naidu

Chandrababu Naidu’s silence on Maharashtra speaks volumes

In May 2018, when HD Kumaraswamy was sworn in as chief minister of Karnataka at the head of a Congress-JDS coalition, opposition leaders were marking attendance in large numbers. Among them was Chandrababu Naidu, freshly anti-BJP minted after having walked out of the NDA a couple of months before. Over the next one year, he was a jet-setting leader, networking with the Congress and other opposition leaders trying to stitch together an anti-BJP alliance. 

Till 23 May when he lost power in Andhra Pradesh and Narendra Modi returned to power in Delhi. For the last months, Naidu has been trying to rebuild bridges with the top BJP leadership. He admitted breaking ties with the NDA was a mistake and leaders who have quit the party have said the TDP chief took the decision despite advice to the contrary. During the election campaign, Naidu went ballistic against Modi, almost making it a point of no return. He forged an alliance with the Congress in Telangana and burnt his fingers badly.

But now Naidu, who loves hobnobbing on the national stage, was conspicuous by his absence in Mumbai. No comment from him on how the BJP tried to form a government with Ajit Pawar or how Sharad Pawar succeeded in checkmating the BJP finally. This despite his close ties with the Maratha strongman. Or the fact that the Congress with who he had tied up in 2018-19, is also part of the Maharashtra government.

Chandrababu Naidu with Rahul Gandhi (file pic)

What it conveys is that Naidu does not want to be seen as anti-BJP any more. 

Two, his ties with the Congress are a thing of the past. 

Three, having seen the Karnataka experiment going nowhere, he does not want to join forces with any opposition combine for now. 

Four, Naidu is focusing entirely on cornering the Jaganmohan Reddy government. The mistake he made before the assembly elections in April-May 2019 was that he assumed Andhra Pradesh was his for the taking. Having lost political ground on home turf, he wants to concentrate on strengthening the Telugu Desam and ensure there is no attrition in the ranks. 

In a nutshell, Naidu’s silence on Maharashtra indicates he is desperately pressing the reset button on his ties with the BJP.

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