Nara Chandrababu Naidu had a long and eventful political journey as the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh and leader of the Telugu Desam Party. In several respects, Naidu can be considered a prototype of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Many years ago, he was striving to accomplish all that Modi is currently attempting. “I was ahead of times,” he said, talking about his first stint as chief minister from 1995 to 2004. Ups and downs marked his over five-decade career, and he believed all is fair in politics and war.
Currently, Naidu is confronting one of his most formidable crises. Naidu was arrested last week in the alleged Skill Development Corporation scam involving Rs 371 crores in 2015 when he was the chief minister. The arrest triggered political turmoil in the State, leading to political realignments. The Centre and state governments have made things even more difficult for him. The big question is whether he can survive this crisis and regain power. The timing of this arrest couldn’t be worse for Babu, as he’s currently trying to rally his party. Naidu is actively campaigning for the 2024 elections, which he has stated will be his final bid for political office.
He is 73 and has already groomed his son Lokesh. The TDP’s recent victories in the local body and MLC elections indicate some upward trend. He attempted to rejoin the NDA, but the BJP was uninterested. His arrest could perhaps revive TDP and gain voters’ sympathy. Naidu’s political journey started as a youth Congress leader in the late 1970s. He then served as a junior minister in the Congress Party. His career took off when he married the daughter of the famous N.T. Rama Rao, a matinee idol. When NTR established his Telugu Desam Party and came to power in 1983, Naidu joined him.
He gained valuable experience in national politics in the struggle to reinstall his father-in-law in 1984 when Indira Gandhi removed NTR. He also made connections with various leaders, who supported him later on. When Naidu took over from NTR, he lacked many qualities that had made NTR successful. When he started his political journey in Kuppam, Nellore district, he didn’t possess strong public speaking skills, a large following or charisma. Additionally, Babu wasn’t recognized for his administrative abilities.
He was a shy backroom boy. Moreover, he had the tag of a traitor and backstabber when he usurped power. After that, Babu’s significant transformation surprised many. He shed his rustic image and grew a goatee to give himself an intellectual appearance. Naidu portrayed himself as India’s most modern chief minister and referred to himself as the State’s chief executive officer. His reputation as the “laptop chief minister” allowed him to mingle with the affluent and influential. He frequently conducted video conferences to showcase his governance abilities.
Hyderabad was transformed due to Naidu’s efforts in getting funding from the World Bank and investments from major multinational Information Technology companies like Microsoft. Naidu rubbed shoulders with renowned figures such as Bill Gates. Despite these accomplishments, Naidu’s political career hit a snag in 2004 when he and his alliance partner Atal Behari Vajpayee lost power. Simultaneously, since 1996, Naidu has been instrumental in forming coalitions at the national level, except for joining the UPA. He served as the convener of the United Front and played a vital role in the Vajpayee and Modi Governments until 2018.
However, he has encountered a formidable opponent since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power. Naidu formed the bifurcated Andhra Pradesh Government with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He quit the NDA in 2018 but did not win the Assembly or Lok Sabha polls in the 2019 elections. Jagan Mohan Reddy of the YSRCP has emerged as a formidable opponent at the state level. He has made it his mission to end Babu’s political career. These are challenging times for Babu as Nemesis has caught up with him.
His detractors point out that he did usurp power from his aged fatherin-law, N.T.Rama Rao, leaving him to die a broken man in 1995. Any leader’s survival and political future depend on various factors. Several factors come into play for Naidu to determine his success in politics. These include his ability to win elections and maintain support from the electorate, both in assembly and parliamentary elections.
The strength and health of the Telugu Desam Party as an organization also plays a significant role. Building effective alliances with other political parties and groups can influence electoral outcomes. Regional issues and concerns shape political leaders’ prospects in Andhra Pradesh. Babu has to compete with strong leaders like Jagan Reddy in his State and K. Chandrashekhar Rao in Telangana. Although Jansena is an NDA ally, Naidu has got the support of its chief, Pawan Kalyan, after his arrest.
The BJP is trying to ride two horses and needs to decide whether to ally with YSRCP. Ultimately, Naidu’s popularity, public perception of his leadership and policies, and ability to connect with voters can impact his political future. Will he turn the arrest into an opportunity? Only time will tell.