From being a cynosure in New Delhi to another local satrap, Chandrababu Naidu's political clout has taken a beating

History repeats itself, perhaps as a tragedy for Chandrababu Naidu who is in New Delhi marketing his version of the Andhra story. Two decades ago Naidu's presence in New Delhi was a national political event as he was the cynosure of national politics both as convener of a united front as well as a vital life support for the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime.

The BJP spokespersons were quick to point out the latest changes in the stature of the political life of the TDP supremo. But, this change is not a creation of Naidu himself.

File image of Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu. News 18

File image of Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu. News 18

Five factors seem to have contributed to this. First, the BJP's consolidation leading to it assuming office on its own, second, the emergence of many more regional parties and satraps, third, the bifurcation of the state resulting in reduced representation for Andhra Pradesh in the Lok Sabha, fourth, the presence of competing regional players in the state so that national parties can pick and choose, and finally the fifth, which is Naidu losing credibility as he frequently shifted his loyalties.

Politics is not just a function of personalities alone. LK Advani who was the architect of BJP's growth story in its early phase has now become a less prominent entity as the saffron party enters its sunlit era. The reason was simple. Advani who nursed prime ministerial ambitions opposed the elevation of Narendra Modi as the war-horse of BJP failed to realise that the Modi era has begun in saffron politics.

Leaders are important in parties and politics. But, they alone cannot dictate the course of history. This is evident in the transition of Chandrababu Naidu. He once faced survival questions as Jaganmohan Reddy's YSR Congress was surging in the politics of the undivided state. But, within two years, Naidu could execute a turn around consummately by effectively using the bifurcation narrative.

But, though he came out of hibernation to emerge victorious in the truncated state of Andhra Pradesh, it was not without collateral damage for the seasoned politician.

The state has only 25 seats in the Lok Sabha while undivided Andhra Pradesh had 42 seats. Besides, the cut-throat competition due to the presence of competing regional players gives no scope for Naidu to monopolise the mandate in the state.

Politics is, obviously, the story of numbers whether one likes it or not. The regional satraps in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu are now more powerful than Telugu leaders.

Meanwhile, the presence of two competing regional players gives the national parties an option to choose their regional ally. The regional parties never show any consistency in terms of their political stance towards the national parties. This is evident from the fact that Chandrababu Naidu has played his politics of Left and right as he allied with the communists and the saffron party at different intervals.

On the contrary, during his heyday, Naidu was the principal opponent of Congress in the state and was the darling of non-Congress parties like BJP during the first NDA regime and even the non-Congress and non-BJP parties. But, in today's Andhra Pradesh, both the national parties have become more or less irrelevant.

As Chandrababu Naidu could make and break alliances, his credibility as a trusted ally took a serious beating. Narendra Modi was, thus, unsure of Naidu's support right from the beginning and BJP was always in the search of an alternate ally in the form of YSR Congress.

Even BJP tried to woo Pawan Kalyan's Jana Sena. Pawan himself said that BJP national president Amit Shah has requested him to merge his party with BJP and the actor turned politician has rejected the request.

The last two to three decades have seen the emergence and consolidation of many regional parties across the nation. The self-disruptive disintegration of the Janata experiment and later Janata Dal gave rise to many parties. The national political spectrum is now full of several regional satraps and Chandrababu Naidu is one among them thus losing his profile as the strong man of regional politics.

The elevation of Mamata Banerjee and attempts by K Chandrasekhar Rao, etc, reveal this trend of the presence of multiple regional parties. Finally, since 2004, Indian politics is witnessing a revival of national parties. Congress gained strength in 2004 and subsequently in 2009 elections leading to lesser vulnerability to pulls and pressures of regional allies.

This revival of national parties reached culmination with the rise of Modi-led BJP that could win a popular mandate on its own though it still shares power as part of its politics of accommodating allies.

Despite the growing noise of regional parties, the fact is that at least BJP is not unduly worried about any threats from its allies especially the TDP. Thus, Chandrababu Naidu's Delhi voyage is limited to the state-specific narrative rather than national political manoeuvring.

The writer is former MLC in Telangana, former editor of The Hans India and professor of journalism at Osmania University

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Updated Date: Apr 05, 2018 14:50:37 IST

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