‘Negative to positive politics’: YS Chowdary who joined BJP from TDP
After conquering Karnataka, BJP has set its eyes on capturing power in the Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Particularly Andhra Pradesh, in which it has got less than one per cent of vote share, the BJP is planning to emerge as a potential alternative to the ruling YSR Congress party by decimating the Telugu Desam Party and capturing its vote share by the next state elections.
As part of the strategy, it is luring strong leaders from the TDP, including a good number of MLAs. The recent defection of four Rajya Sabha members from TDP to BJP has given a rude shock to TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu. The defection of former Union minister for science and technology Y S Chowdary, a close confidant of Chandrababu Naidu for over a decade, is a big setback for the TDP.
Chowdary defended his decision to move to the BJP from TDP saying that he “cannot work in the party that plays negative politics.” Excerpts:
Q: What made you to switch over to the BJP so suddenly?
A: It was not a sudden decision. I looked at the whole mood of the nation, which was in favour of the BJP. Even when I was in the TDP, I always used to tell the party leadership that pulling out of NDA was not correct. If we have to maintain quality in politics, we have to work with cooperation and coordination and not with confrontation and competition. In a cooperative federalism, the state has to take the Centre’s help. My conviction was that the NDA government had done its best to the state.
Q: Was it right to desert the TDP when it is in crisis?
A: I travelled with Chandrababu Naidu for 15 years – first 10 years when he was not in power and even in the last five years when he was the chief minister, I never interfered in the government. But I was not that happy with the way things were going on in his government. I differed with him on so many issues, particularly in the way he was picking up quarrels with the NDA government even on small issues. I felt I had enough of it.
After the elections, I had only two options: Resign and get out of politics or align with a party that plays positive politics. I felt it was not proper to work with the party that plays negative politics.
Q: Was it also because of the CBI and ED cases against you?
A: There are absolutely no cases directly connected with me. The CBI and ED conducted searches but they were held only as part of cross-verification. Nobody gave any complaint against me or against the companies that I had founded. My joining the BJP had nothing do with these developments.
Q: The BJP seems to be attracting as many leaders as possible from the TDP so as to weaken it further and emerge as a potential opposition to YSRCP. What is going to be your role in it?
A: I will work as per the directions of the party leadership. According me, the plan is to strengthen the BJP and build a strong cadre base. In the process, whoever is interested in joining us will join. It is up to them.
Q: Your party in-charge of Andhra says 18 TDP MLAs are ready to join the BJP.
A: Why do we need the MLAs now? Even if all the 23 TDP MLAs join our party, can we come to power in the state? Our target is to come to power by working hard and growing strong. There is nothing we can gain by splitting the opposition party. But, if any TDP leader wants to join us, we shall welcome them.
Q: But is there really a space for the BJP in Andhra politics? It has got a very meagre vote share in the recent elections.
A: There is a lot of space for the BJP. And vote share is not a barometer to assess its strength. The BJP vote which was with the TDP in 2014 has got transferred to the YSRC this time, because the people did not want the TDP to come to power again. Had the TDP gone with the same combination of 2014, it would have retained power.
But by next elections, the BJP has the capacity to increase its vote share and come to power. There is still nearly five years’ time.
Q: How do you look at the future of the TDP? Does it have no future at all?
A: I will not say that. In politics, nobody can make predictions. It all depends on how they will work out their strategies. But why should I waste my time in assessing TDP position in the coming years? I don’t believe in winning elections based on opposition’s weakness.
Q: How comfortable are you in BJP? Do you have any chance of getting back into cabinet?
A: I am very comfortable and all the people in Delhi have been very close to me in the last five years. I am getting due recognition and importance. I cannot say about posts and positions, which are just by-products.
Q: It is a complete ideological shift from TDP to BJP for you. Does it affect you in any way?
A: Hindutva may be the BJP’s philosophy, but it is only a perception that it is pro-Hindu. I strongly feel it is a secular party which has people from all religions. I believe that we have to go on the development plank to come to power rather than Hindutva.