Chandrababu Naidu walks a tightrope on Telangana issue
By R Prithvi Raj - HYDERABAD
Published: 04th Nov 2012 11:52:04 AM
The subtle shift in Telegu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu’s stand on Telangana that he is not opposed to it and that he wants an all party meeting held on the issue, appears to be not going down well with the people in the region. What they probably want to hear from him is his unequivocal support for Telangana demand which is not forthcoming from him for obvious reasons.
When Naidu’s padayatra took him to Shetty Atmakur near Gadwal in Mahbubnagar district, a Telangana supporter landed him in a catch 22 situation when he asked him, whether he would lead the T movement. Taken aback by the unexpected question, Naidu tried to do what he is good at, tried steering the conversation to safer zone. Naidu could not say yes or no. “Apart from the Telangana issue, there are several issues like drinking water scarcity, farmers’ problems and power crisis, which are to be dealt with. If I take the responsibility of resolving the T-issue, who will fight with the government to address the day to day concerns of the people,” Naidu asked, and in a subtle way said no to the supporter’s request.
Whenever the issue of Telangana comes up, he uses utmost caution as though he is treading on eggshells. His professions on Telangana, which are not in the form of an outright demand for a separate state, but more in the nature of a play on words to please people in both the regions, is what is making the people in Telangana view him with suspicion. “If anyone in Telangana supports Naidu, it is not because he would get Telangana. They may look at him with interest for better governance if Congress refuses to deliver the state and the TRS fails to exert pressure on it,” a Telangana farmer said.
His equivocation on T issue and his letter to the Prime Minister to call an all party meeting, has angered one of his MLAs in Seemandhra region as well. Tamballapalle legislator (Chittoor district) Anipireddy Venkata Praveen Kumar Reddy quit TDP and crossed over to Jagan camp. Before announcing his decision, he said he was deeply hurt by Naidu’s approach on the bifurcation issue. “TDP MLAs in the Seemandhra region would look elsewhere if Naidu does not withdraw his letter,” Anipireddy said before joining YSR Congress.
In Telangana region, Naidu had paid a heavy price for continuing to treat Seemandhra and Telangna as his “two eyes.” As many as six legislators in Telangana region parted ways with him. Of them one leader Nagam Janardhan Reddy floated a Telangana party—Telangana Nagara—and won by election from Nagarkurnool. Four other legislators who became TRS MLAs after winning by elections in 2012 were: Jogu Rammna, Gampa Govardhan, Ch Ramesh (he joined TRS in 2009 itself) and Pocharam Srinviasa Reddy.
When Telangana movement became fierce after the Centre did a somersault and went back on its December 9 declaration in 2009, Naidu came out with his two eye philosophy which only made him a butt of ridicule in Telangana region as it is a conflict in terms. KCR once said: “I regard Chiranjeevi with more respect than Naidu. Chiranjeevi said he was for Samaikyandhra. But Naidu does not have guts to say he wants the state to remain united or demand a separate state for Telangana.” Naidu, after the drubbing in 2010 and 2012 by elections, suffered desertions of cadres from his party. After the TRS systematically decimated the TDP, Naidu had to do something and something fast to retain the vote banks he has in both the regions. To begin with, he turned his attention to Telangana, where the party has a strong network of workers. Always doing a trapeze act in trying not to ruffle feathers of people in Telangana and Seemandhra, he steered a middle course. He kept saying he was not opposed to Telangana though the TRS demanded to know how it could be the party’s stand. Its contention was that Naidu should say whether he wants a Telangana or not. With the decibel levels increasing, Naidu took one more step forward, that too a cautious one—writing to the Prime Minister to call an all party meeting to sort out the issue.
What has come as a blessing in disguise is that the pink panthers are not creating any trouble to him since KCR seems to have given them a break from agitations.