Andhra special status protest: Chandrababu Naidu needs Mamata Banerjee's support to remain relevant to national politics

Leaders from various political parties called upon Andhra Pradesh chief minister and Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu as he sat for the day-long Dharma Porata Deeksha hunger strike on Monday at Andhra Bhavan in Delhi, demanding special status for his state. AAP chief and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, TMC MP Derek O’Brien, National Conference's Farooq Abdullah, NCP's Majeed Memon, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and DMK’s T Siva spoke on the dharna stage, supporting Naidu’s demand for a special category status for Andhra Pradesh.

Chandrababu Naidu at the dharna. ANI

Chandrababu Naidu at the dharna. ANI

However, despite the support from Opposition parties towards his protest, the one ally that the TDP chief might be looking forward to meeting on the dais is Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

“We have been denied what is rightfully ours. If you don't get it done, we know how to get it done,” a confident Naidu said on Monday, slamming Modi and the Centre at the dharna in Delhi.

Naidu' statement echoed the same anti-Centre and anti-Modi sentiment that Mamata had expressed during her Kolkata dharna, which Naidu has attended as well.

Back then an over-zealous Naidu had said that "no one can do what Mamata has done" referring to Mamata' stand on the CBI versus Kolkata Police row.

Naidu's demand for special status for Andhra Pradesh is an important part of his strategy to strengthen his allegations of the BJP's anti-Andhra policies — also a significant poll issue — and to defend his anti-BJP stance. And who could be better in pushing his agenda than "the architect of the federal front" who stood against the Centre?

While Mamata held a hunger strike in the CBI versus West Bengal row and use it to slam the Centre, the Andhra chief minister seems to have learnt fast from his ‘friend’ and is holding a fast at Delhi's Andhra Bhavan to press for his demand to accord special status for Andhra Pradesh.

Getting support from Mamata is also a necessity for the TDP chief to ensure he remains relevant to national politics. Though Rahul was present at Naidu's dharna on Monday, the TDP and the Congress have been showing signs of rift after the Prajakutami's humiliating defeat in Telangana Assembly polls last year, where the K Chandrasekhar Rao-led Telangana Rashtra Samithi returned to power with 88 seats, decimating the Congress to just 19 seats and TDP to two seats.

Even though Professor M Kodandaram, one of the members of the Prajakutami and leader of Telangana Jana Samithi, said the alliance may make a comeback for the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress and TDP had firmly talked after the Telangana Assembly polls about parting ways for the Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections.

Naidu snapped ties with the National Democratic Alliance in March 2018, over various issues, with the most prominent one being the Centre’s rejection of the demand of special category status to Andhra Pradesh. The TDP had also moved a no-confidence motion in the Monsoon session of parliament in July 2018, which was defeated, that effectively has left the BJP miffed.

Since then, far from being supportive towards TDP, the BJP has gone to the extent of labelling Naidu the ‘Assembly rowdy’, deeply frustrated and defeated. BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao took a jab at Naidu’s outburst in Andhra Assembly earlier this month.

"A frustrated, defeatist Chandrababu Naidu has threatened BJP MLAs Vishnu Kumar Raju and Manikyala Rao in Andhra Assembly yesterday that Andhra BJP leaders will not be allowed to move in the state for exposing TDP," Narasimha had tweeted on 2 February.

Adding to the flood of criticism against Naidu, BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy had said there is no place for Naidu in Delhi.

The parties in the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have left no stone unturned to derail his political ambitions or his demand for special category status for Andhra Pradesh. YSR Congress Party and Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena extended support to the TDP rival party TRS in December last year.

KCR, who Naidu claims, had earlier supported Andhra Pradesh's demand for special status, seems to have taken a U-turn on the subject. “KCR wanted me not to join hands with the Congress. The TRS chief once supported the provision of SCS to AP. Now, he is against it,” Naidu had said in December.

Adding insult to injury, YSR Congress Party’s Botsa Satyanarayana told reporters on 17 January, “Our president Jagan Reddy has time and again said firmly that they would not have electoral tie-ups and will support any coalition that would serve Andhra's interests.”

Not one to be ‘cowed down’, Naidu had then called KCR ‘the second Modi’ and Jagan ‘the third Modi’.

Amidst this attack and counter-attack with his immediate rivals in the Andhra Pradesh-Telangana region, and Congress still undecided, Mamata appears to be Naidu's only loyal and strong ally.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Feb 11, 2019 19:32:19 IST

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