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Fighting to stay relevant, Chandrababu Naidu in tough battle with Jagan Mohan Reddy

While winning the high-stakes battle in state is a big challenge for Naidu, he is also very keen on winning a good number of Lok Sabha seats in the state in order to play a major role in establishing an anti-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition government in the Centre.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: May 23, 2019 09:04 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Amravati
Andhra chief minister Chandrababu Naidu hopes to play a significant role at the national level even if his party faces reverses in the assembly elections.
Andhra chief minister Chandrababu Naidu hopes to play a significant role at the national level even if his party faces reverses in the assembly elections.(PTI)
         

Winning and losing elections is not new to Telugu Desam Party and its president N Chandrababu Naidu.

After coming to power in 1983 within nine months of its inception under the leadership of matinee idol N T Rama Rao, the TDP lost power to the Congress for the first time in 1989, but bounced back in 1994.

After Naidu came to power by staging a coup against his father-in-law in 1995, he brought the Telugu Desam Party to victory again in 1999, but lost power for two consecutive terms in 2004 and 2009. After the bifurcation of combined Andhra Pradesh in 2014, the TDP chief returned to power in the truncated Andhra after a gap of 10 years.

This time, Naidu faces a tough challenge from 46-year old Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, heading the YSR Congress party, who is said to be leading in the race for power, as suggested by various exit polls.

While winning the high-stakes battle in state is a big challenge for Naidu, he is also very keen on winning a good number of Lok Sabha seats in the state in order to play a major role in establishing an anti-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition government in the Centre. For the last one year, Naidu has been flying from state to state rallying the opposition leaders against the BJP.

Even if Naidu loses power in the state, he will hope to play a significant role at the national level, provided the TDP gets at least 10 parliamentary seats, the BJP-led NDA misses the absolute majority mark by a mile and a maha ghatbandham of anti-BJP parties get a chance to form the government.

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But, almost all exit polls, though known to go wrong, have predicted return of the NDA with a huge majority. In such a scenario, a defeat could mean a virtual collapse of the TDP as Naidu is already nearing 70 years and he might not have the patience and energy to sustain the party for another five years so as to bring it back to power.

His son Nara Lokesh, who is considered to be his heir apparent, has failed to prove himself as a leader in the last five years. It would also be a personal defeat for Naidu who appears to nurture dreams of playing the kingmaker at the Centre.

But political analyst S Ramakrishna says one cannot write off Naidu so easily in politics. “He has tremendous willpower and is a very shrewd politician. Even though he was out of power for 10 years, he could bring the TDP back to power in 2014. If his party gets 40-50 assembly seats and a half a dozen MP seats in the ongoing elections, he can still continue as a powerful political force. The TDP is a strong cadre-based party and it cannot collapse with just one election loss,” Ramakrishna said.

First Published: May 23, 2019 07:01 IST

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