Chandrababu Naidu has come a long way in politics. However, his journey to the top has been mired with decisions and moves that have been often questioned and criticised.
Chandrababu’s many U-turns on important issues and his politics of convenience reflect poorly on him as a leader.
The TDP leader, who is still remembered for grabbing power in the party by backstabbing his father-in-law NTR in a questionable way, has since then done little to shed the tag of being an “opportunist politician”.
He has changed parties, shifted loyalties, dumped alliances, made flip-flop on important policies from time to time for his political survival.
The first ideological U-turn: From Congress to TDP
Chandrababu started his political journey with the Congress. However, he quietly switched over to TDP, a party founded by his father-in-law NT Rama Rao, following his electoral defeat in 1983. This was a big ideological U-turn as the very basis of TDP’s formation was opposition to the Congress. How he eventually went on to take over the party by dethroning NTR is a well known fact of his politics.
The NDA experiment
Chandrababu has already been in and out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) twice. His first stint with the NDA was from 1998 to 2004. He called this association a “mistake” and vowed not to repeat it. However, in 2013, he was back on the NDA ship. And now as 2019 polls approach, he has once again dumped the NDA. Today he is again trying to position himself as a leader of the united opposition front. He says he is not the face of the opposition alliance but clearly his move to meet opposition leaders across the country is an attempt to do so. It remains to be seen, what would be his stand if the opposition parties fail to make a mark in 2019 and the BJP-led NDA manages to hold on to power at the Centre.
Special package versus special status for Andhra Pradesh
Chandrababu Naidu claims he has walked out of the NDA over the step-motherly treatment meted out to Andhra Pradesh by the Centre. He compromised on Special Status saying Special Status is not ‘sanjeevani’ (Lifeline). But the same leader in 2016 accepted the special package given by the Centre and did not find it necessary to push for the special status. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his reply to the no-confidence motion in Parliament, quoted how the TDP leader had on November 4, 2016 not just accepted the special package but also praised the Union finance minister for it. The PM went on to say that the TDP leader made a U-turn to hide his failures in the state.
For Chandrababu Naidu special status was a closed chapter in 2016, but with 2019 elections round the corner, he has now opened the chapter to reap political benefits.
In 2016, he gave a heroes’ welcome to the same BJP leaders at the Centre, who, according to him, are now “doing injustice” to the state. Clearly, the TDP leader has a lot to explaining to do to the people of the state.
Alliance with the Congress
Chandrababu Naidu’s association with the Congress is old, but his relation with the party has changed over the years depending on his convenience. His recent meeting with Rahul Gandhi is being seen as a significant shift in his stand vis-à-vis the Congress. Chandrababu Naidu was happy flaunting this new position to the national media even as he spoke of “democratic compulsion” to justify his stand. But let us remember, he is the same Chandrababu Naidu who had in 2016 shown black flags to Rahul Gandhi. The TDP which was founded by NTR to oppose the wrong policies of the Congress has today joined hands with the same party.
Reacting strongly to TDP’s alliance with the Congress, the widow of party founder NT Rama Rao in a unique protest asked the late leader to take “reincarnation” to restore the self-respect of Telugu people.
Lakshmi Parvathy wrote a letter and placed it at the Samadhi of NTR. She also staged a protest to oppose the move.
No-confidence motion against NDA government
Another classic example of Chandrababu Naidu’s U-turn politics was on display with regards to the no-confidence motion against the NDA government over the special status to Andhra Pradesh.
When our party, the YSR Congress, proposed the motion to expose the NDA government over its step-motherly treatment, Chandrababu Naidu ridiculed the move. A year later, his stand on the issue had changed and the same leader started seeing virtues in a no-confidence motion.
However, what is significant is the remark by none other than the Prime Minister himself during the debate, asking Chandrababu Naidu not to use Parliament to play out state politics. PM’s reference to our party bore testimony to the fact that we have played a very important role as an opposition in the state and Chandrababu Naidu was forced to change his stance fearing adverse political fallout.
Demonetisation and GST
Demonetisation and GST are clearly the two most significant policy decisions taken by the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, of which Chandrababu Naidu was a part till recently. If we look at the TDP leader’s statements on these two issues, we realize how he has made a flip-flop depending on which side of the divide he is. Clearly, his opposition or support to the two issues is not based on the merits or demerits of the policies, but it is based on his political compulsions.
When demonetisation was announced in 2016, Chandrababu Naidu not just welcomed the decision, but also claimed victory for the TDP over the fight for corruption.
However, soon after he was quoted by media saying “demonetisation was not our wish but it happened.” Though he tried to mask the changed stand saying his comments were misrepresented.
After walking out of the NDA, he now calls demonetisation a disaster.
Similarly, after calling the Goods and Services Tax as an “innovative change”, Chandrababu Naidu went on to call it a “bad” move later.
Clearly, Chandrababu Naidu has no qualms in taking U-turns just for political gains. So much so, it has almost become a habit with him.