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How Chandrababu Naidu lost the plot

Written By news on Friday, July 20, 2012 | 7/20/2012

How Chandrababu Naidu lost the plot
HYDERABAD: Ad guru Alyque Padamsee remembers the time that he was communications advisor to Chandrababu Naidu circa 2000 AD. "Clinton was coming to Hyderabad and Naidu wanted to impress the US president so that he could endorse the city as an international investment destination," Padamsee says adding that there was only a window of fifteen minutes that Naidu would have with Clinton, one to one, to make an impression." It was decided that this time would be used to request Clinton to apply for a driving license online and even before the fifteen minutes got over, the driving license would be delivered online. This would demonstrate the strides that Andhra Pradesh had made in e-goveranance, "the ad guru remembers. In the event, things went as planned leaving a mighty pleased US President who went to his next public meeting with Indian corporate chiefs commending Naidu and Hyderabad to them. A few weeks later Clinton was in Tokyo brandishing the driving license that he secured in fifteen minutes in Hyderabad before Japanese corporates.

But that was then. Twelve years later Chandrababu Naidu seems to have lost the plot with a steady exodus of partymen from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). In the latest, 5 MLAs of TDP defied the party line and cast their vote in the Presidential poll. Naidu has told his legislators and Parliamentarians to keep away. Evidence suggests that 4 of these MLAs are bound for Jagan's YSR Congress, while one of them wants to switch over to the Congress party. "There is growing disenchantment in TDP. Many more are waiting in the wings ready to leave. Our party does not seem to be going anywhere," says a senior party leader. The specific cause of worry is that although in opposition since 2004, TDP is unable to benefit from the anti- incumbency. Political analysts point out that the beneficiary of the anti- incumbency of the Congress is YSR Congress. "Though in the opposition, the voter is treating us at par with the ruling party. That is why we did not pick up a single seat in the last round of elections to 18 assembly seats, where even the Congress got two seats," the leader adds.

Analysts point out that much of the problem has arisen because Naidu has given up what is called in marketing parlance USP (unique selling proposition). The first state leader to take up liberalization, the chief minister credited as the founder of modern Hyderabad, Naidu took a U-turn after he was voted out of power in 2004. Journalists remember that he almost became apologetic about economic reforms after he lost the polls. Instead he started concentrating on farmers' issue, but made little impact because Y S Rajasekhara Reddy who was in power had opened the treasury to farmers and other rural folks in the form of various incentives like free power etc. This made Naidu make better promises to farmers but to no impact because YSR had established himself as the messiah. After his death, his son Jagan has inherited the mantle of YSR. Jagan also benefited (and left Naidu at a disadvantage) because of the changing demographic profile of voters. With youth now comprising a third of the voters, Naidu (although remarkably fit at 61) cannot match Jagan in sheer appeal to the youth. "The world has changed Naidu cannot connect with the youth. He kept on harping on corruption not realizing that the voter takes it as a given that all politicians are corrupt. They vote for the person who they feel will share the booty with them," a TDP leader reasons.Given the fact that Naidu seized power by dethroning his father in law N T Rama Rao (NTR), he runs TDP with an iron hand with no role for anybody else. There is no empowered second line to expand the party and the talk is that Naidu is pushing his son Lokesh as a successor. But Lokesh is not seen as a political animal. Earlier there was talk of NTR junior, the grandson of the NTR and also a successful Telugu film hero being groomed for the leadership of TDP. "NTR junior besides being a cine star and young (in his late twenties) has a remarkable likeness to his grandfather NTR. This can help us to revive old memories of NTR who is held in great respect by voters," a TDP insider points out. But Chandrababu Naidu has reservations about NTR junior who consequently is these days drifting away towards Jagan and YSR Congress. Party sources speculate that Naidu is also mulling about grooming Brahmani, his Stanford educated daughter in law as a TDP leader. This could not be immediately confirmed, but Brahmani is also the grand -daughter of NTR.

NTR had built a powerful alliance of the numerically strong other backward castes (OBCs) and the prosperous and industrious Kammas( his own caste) to stride into power. Analysts point out that the Kammas remain with TDP but the OBCs have started moving away. This is also impacting on the organizational structure of the party -that penetrates to the grass-root levels. "If Naidu cannot prevent the disintegration in the organization, the party is gone forever. The question is whether he will be able to think and act out of the box and rise like a sphinx," says a party man. A million dollar question that.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/How-Chandrababu-Naidu-lost-the-plot/articleshow/15055263.cms
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