States & UTs

    Naidu’s arrest may rock TDP’s boat ahead of polls in Andhra

    The Hawk
    September11/ 2023
    Last Updated:

    Amaravati: With a few months to go for elections in Andhra Pradesh, the arrest of former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu in alleged skill development case and the investigations against him, his son Nara Lokesh and some former ministers in multiple cases has sent ripples in the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

    The arrest of the TDP supremo by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) and his judicial remand have come as a big setback for the TDP, which was trying to bounce back after the crushing defeat at the hands of YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) in 2019.

    The arrest came at a time when Naidu and his son were in the midst of intensive mass contact campaigns, targeting the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government.

    Naidu was arrested from a bus in which he was taking rest in Nandyal after addressing a public meeting as part of ‘Babu Surety-Bhavisyathuku Guarantee’, a mass contact programme launched by him on September 1.

    The 45-day-long campaign was aimed at reaching out to 3 crore people to explain how the super six schemes announced by Naidu will provide them financial sustenance, protection and a bright future. He promised that the schemes will be implemented once the TDP is elected to power.

    The party was upbeat with good public response to this programme. This was the latest campaign launched by Naidu after undertaking similar programmes ‘Badude Badudu’ (blow after blow) and ‘Idemi Kharma Mana Rashtranniki’ (what fate has befallen our state) had evoked tremendous response from people.

    Lokesh’s ‘Yuva Galam’ (voice of youth) Padayatra was also drawing good crowds.

    The TDP general secretary, who launched the 4,000 km padyatra on January 27, has already covered nearly 3,000 km.

    Now with Naidu in jail and the CID also seeking his custody in the Amaravati Inner Ring Road case and Lokesh also under CID scanner for his role in Skill Development Corporation, Inner Ring Road and AP Fibernet cases, the TDP may find it difficult to continue the momentum. This will boost the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) to go all out to retain power.

    On the other hand, Naidu may try to play the victim card to garner public sympathy.

    “It will all depend on how things play out in the coming months and how the parties carry the narrative forward,” said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

    He pointed out that Jagan Mohan Reddy had long been trying to target Naidu and finally after multiple attempts he succeeded.

    The timing of Naidu’s arrest is also significant. It came at a time when TDP was on an upswing, riding on various campaigns targeting the YSRCP government.

    The stakes are high for TDP in the coming elections as 73-year-old Naidu has already declared that this will be his last electoral battle.

    The TDP chief minces no words to target Jagan. In almost every public speech, the former chief minister calls him a psychopath, factionist, corrupt and criminal.

    Naidu, in his speeches, also target Jagan over the 16 months he spent in jail in disproportionate assets cases.

    “Ever since Jagan floated YSRCP, the party had to face the taunt of being led by a man who had gone to jail. Now with Naidu too going to jail, Jagan has tried to bring him to the same level,” said Raghavendra Reddy.

    The YSRCP may now hit back at TDP with the counter that its president had also gone to jail.

    If Naidu gets bail in the Skill Development Corporation case, he may be arrested in other cases.

    An indication to this effect came when the CID filed a petition in the court seeking Naidu’s custody in the Amaravati Ring Road case.

    The ruling party may also try to deny an opportunity to Naidu to play the victim card by referring to the court order. “The YSRCP may say that it has nothing to do with Naidu’s arrest. The CID registered a case and arrested Naidu and it was the court which sent him to judicial custody after it satisfied itself with the material provided,” the analyst said.

    Elections to Andhra Pradesh Assembly are scheduled to be held in April-May next year along with Lok Sabha polls. The YSRCP has ruled out going for early elections.

    In the 2019 elections, YSRCP stormed to power by bagging 151 seats in the 175-member Assembly. The TDP had finished distant second with 23 seats.

    The YSRCP had also captured 22 out of 25 Lok Sabha seats.