In July 2010, TDP chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu sat on a protest in Nanded district of Maharashtra against the Babli dam on Godavari river, saying it obstructs the flow of water into the adjacent Telangana. At that time, Naidu was taking up the cause of Telangana farmers who were worried that Babli would turn their region dry and thus affect their livelihood.
Now, Naidu is on fast in New Delhi making similar claims on behalf of the Seemandhra people agitated over the division of Andhra Pradesh. And this time around, the issue is not just about Godavari that flows through Telangana into coastal Andhra or the ownership of Hyderabad that both regions want. Naidu’s own political fortune is drying up in the state.
Just when his electoral prospects, after a long lull, were looking up, the UPA government’s decision to divide the state came as a severe blow to the two-time former Andhra Pradesh chief minister.
His party had backed the creation of Telangana and YSR Congress Party chief Jaganmohan Reddy was in jail in corruption cases. Naidu toured extensively in the state improving his image. Consequently, the TDP performed well in the first two phases of panchayat polls and was preparing for the third phase when the Congress, on July 30, favoured the creation of Telangana.
Naidu does not mince words to state that the division was to purge him politically. “It’s a Congress ploy, purely to destroy me.”
First, a division means Naidu could never be Andhra Pradesh’s ‘CEO’, as he branded himself, again. And in a divided state, Naidu who hails from Chittoor, part of Seemandhra, would find it tough battling Reddy who has become popular in the region.
Making things tougher for Naidu, Reddy is now out of jail and, sensing the public anger against the division, took a total pro-united Andhra stand.
Sadly for Naidu, he cannot take a firm pro- or anti-Telangana stand as his party has stakes in both regions.
Still hopeful of a miracle that suspends the bifurcation, Naidu has gone on fast in New Delhi blaming the Congress for “fixing the electoral match with the YSR Congress Party in Seemandhra and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi in Telangana” against him.