Andhra Pradesh

Jagan to send Reliance honcho to Rajya Sabha. Why is it significant?

The YSR Congress party usually does not nominate any person who is not a member to the Rajya Sabha. Which is why the decision to send Parimal Nathwani to the Upper House is significant. Though for the record, Jaganmohan Reddy is believed to have made it clear that Nathwani will be seen as a YSRCP MP and not an Independent MP as was the case when he was elected from Jharkhand. 

How should this decision to field a prominent industrialist who is so close to Mukesh Ambani that the Reliance chief himself flew into Amaravati to pitch for him with Jagan, be seen? Nathwani is the Senior Group President at Reliance Industries.

On the face of it, Jagan’s decision to field a non-Andhra and a moneybag raises eyebrows and begs the question if there was no worthy candidate within the party. It is public knowledge that there were several claimants to the Rajya Sabha seat including Jagan’s uncle YV Subba Reddy, who is now the Chairman of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD). The move is in a way similar to the inclination of Telugu Desam chief Chandrababu Naidu who favoured businessmen-politicians like YV Chowdary and CM Ramesh in the House of Elders though both of them were then TDP functionaries and not party outsiders. 

But the thinking in the CM’s camp is a tad different. For the past nine months, there has been incessant chatter that industry is no longer interested in investing in Andhra Pradesh. While on one hand, the government’s insistence on 75 per cent jobs for locals means the talent pool for any industry gets largely restricted, the decision to review many of the power purchase agreements and go for reverse tenders in projects started in Naidu’s tenure, had spooked the business community. 

It is here that Nathwani’s entry could make the difference. The hope is that Reliance will spearhead the investment into Andhra Pradesh in a significant way and this will act as an ambassador of sorts for other industrialists. 

It also serves an important political purpose. The fact that Nathwani in his Thankyou tweet to Jagan, tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, tells the story. It is obvious that the industrialist will now be a prominent link between the YSRCP and the top BJP leadership, given his access to the corridors of power. 

Two, apart from blunting Naidu’s criticism of an exodus of investment from Andhra Pradesh, the optics of the bonhomie between Jagan and Reliance will not amuse the former chief minister one bit. Naidu will neither be able to criticise a Reliance man being fielded given his friendship with Ambani nor target Jagan on fielding a non-Telugu given that the TDP had facilitated the election of former Union minister Suresh Prabhu from Andhra Pradesh in 2016. 

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