Home Tollywood News Bollywood Gola Political News Hyderabad Mania
Custom Search

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Andhra Politics is all Maya

Even as politics in the state took a new turn last week with the unprecedented police firing in Mudigonda, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati’s long shadow has started falling on Andhra Pradesh. No, Mayawati has not disclosed her intention to mobilise the Dalits in Andhra Pradesh. Neither has she commented on the Khammam firing incident, but with her ascendancy to power in the largest state in the country, New Delhi’s outlook towards the creation of a separate Telangana state has changed. If the thinking in Raisina Hills previously was to seriously consider forming the new state if that would help the fortunes of the Congress party in Andhra Pradesh in Elections 2009, that point of view has now been jettisoned. This since Mayawati would hate any move to create smaller states. Reason? The pressure will be on her to agree for breaking Uttar Pradesh into two smaller states, compact and easier to administer. In fact, the ideological battle has already begun with even unrelated people including former cabinet secretary B G Deshmukh mouthing the theory that no state should be allowed to have more than 10 per cent of the total seats in Lok Sabha.
It would not be lost on the Dalit queen that this ideology is being propagated only to keep her away from being a major force in the politics of Delhi. But that she will be in the run up to Elections 2009, and for that reason the Congress party diametrically opposed to both Mulayam Singh Yadav and BJP-have to get her on their side. It is no gain saying that the Telangana movement has become defunct (at least for the time being) what with many netas of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) being compromised in the fake passport scam. And although TRS supremo K Chandrasekhar Rao has announced his padyatra, nobody really has faith in his ability to keep the momentum up. “Had the movement for Telangana generated immense pressure at the ground level then the Mayawati factor could have been offset by this movement. But then there is not much evidence of this,” a political analyst said. Babu’s offensive
In fact, Telangana is on the back-burner for the time being what with TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu having launched a full scale offensive against the government of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy. With Naidu and YSR being on the same wavelength as far as Telangana is concerned (both don’t want a separate state), the political discourse till last fortnight was all about the performance of the incumbent government and the riches allegedly amassed by YSR and his ministers. Naidu brigade’s charge has been that the government is very very corrupt and has nothing to show on the ground. With Mudigonda happening, Naidu has latched himself to the Left agenda of land reforms and is now making common cause with them. The unstated offer from Naidu to the Left: “Let’s work together, With such a small vote base that you Left parties have, you can come to power only riding piggyback on a bigger party like TDP. There is no scope for a third option in the bi-polar polity of AP.” But sections of the Left would not have anything to do with him precisely because they feel that Naidu’s TDP being the bigger partner will corner the electoral benefits that this agenda may yield.
Moreover they also feel that TDP is itself a ‘bourgeoise’ party and therefore not in a position to participate in the movement. The whole programme of landfor-the-landless will go off track with the involvement of the TDP, they aver. Some of them feel that while opposing the Congress, they can still gain by remaining in limited alliance with that party. As 2009 comes closer Naidu and TDP will bank more and more on the anti-incumbency factor that will hit the YSR government. Chandrababu Naidu is also trying to weave a magic around the name of N T Rama Rao and hopes that this will fetch votes. After all NTR is the man who a quarter century ago entered the Andhra political scene as a tornado, displacing the Congress for the first time in the state. NTR’s son and film actor Balakrishna will be used to substitute for his father, in some way. Naidu’s problem is that his party’s policies are similar to that of the Congress. Both the parties are for growth, increasing agricultural production and economic liberalisation. “So TDP perforce has to bank only on the anti-incumbency of the YSR government,” an analyst said. YSR’s gameplan
No neta in power will ever give it up, willingly. This is especially true for Y S Rajasekhara Reddy who came to his present position after immense labour and toil. YSR has been in state politics for the last quarter of a century but it took ten year’s of anti-incumbency of the Naidu regime and padyatras across the state to bring him to power. It is clear that YSR will do what he can to retain power and get back to the CM’s gaddi at the next election. Of course Congress politics is all about the high command destabilising regional satraps every now and then. But this strategy, perfected during the time of Indira Gandhi, is these days being played at a very low-key level. Not surprising because the Congress of Sonia Gandhi is not the Congress of the yore of Indira Gandhi.
New Delhi’s new strategy is a measure of relief for YSR, but more important is the fact there are no internal challengers for his gaddi. In the state, the Hyderabad brothers—Shashidhar Reddy and P Janardhan Reddy—who are the most visible faces of dissidence are not strong enough. At the centre, Jaipal Reddy is almost petrified to raise his voice in Hyderabad. Former chief minister N Janardhan Reddy does not have age on his side. Pradesh Congress chief Keshava Rao is a paper tiger. And aspirant for the CM’s post in 2004, D Srinivas, a minister in YSR’s cabinet is a non-entity. This in spite of the fact that he is a member of the other backward castes (OBC), which these days is politically the most important caste. Equally important, YSR who by now has perfected the art of realpolitik, has friends in the Delhi durbar. Those in the know of things say that he keeps them happy and in turn they speak up for him when required. Besides YSR also maintains good relations with both Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. Even as he has kept New Delhi happy, YSR’s feudal background has helped him in politics. Loyalty comes naturally to him, as do relationships of all kinds: caste, kin, region and friendships. Armed with these YSR has built a strong network of loyalists who swear by him. “YSR banks on these and very rightly so,” says an analyst. In fact there is a line of thinking that if YSR is pushed into a corner by the high command, the possibility of his breaking the Congress party in the state and creating an “Andhra Congress” party cannot be ruled out. “If that happens, politics of Andhra Pradesh will become like the politics of Tamil Nadu. There will be two regional parties vying for power and the national parties will have to say bye bye,” the analyst said. Of course, at the present moment there is no indication of all this happening. For the time being, YSR is busy disengaging the Left from the TDP and patching up with the former. With Manmohan Singh’s government dependent on Left support, he has been told to make up with the Red brigade. In particular he will have to devote his attention to CPM’s state secretary B V Raghavalu and Sitaram Yechury of the central unit. That’s not going to be an easy job. No OBC consolidation
Over fifty years ago, one of India’s most famous sociologist M N Srinivas noted how Indian politics revolved around castes. About Andhra Pradesh he pointed out that the Reddys entered the Congress party, while their rivals in the village society, the Kammas entered the Communist party. This trend had become so pronounced that oldtimers remember how they used to jeer that it was not Communist but ‘Kammanist’ party. Even as the Congress made headway in state politics, the Communists remained far behind. Due to changes in national level politics, the Communist party broke down into the CPI and the CPM.
It was only in the early 1980s, celluloid hero N T Rama Rao burst into the political scene riding on the sentiment of neglect at the hands of the central government that the Telugus were feeling and also riding on Kamma aspirations. The only constant in Indian politics is change. Even as the Reddys and Kammas dominated the Andhra Pradesh electoral scene with their minuscule numbers, an OBC ferment has begun in the state. Numerically the OBCs comprise 50 per cent of the electorate of the state, but their voice in Andhra Pradesh politics is not really heard. But OBC consciousness is now increasing, especially among the Kapus and Gouds. This, by itself does not help because the OBCs are divided. Even Kapus do not present an unified picture: Kapus of Telangana are different from that of the coastal districts, who are distinct from those in Rayalaseema. The Kapus, the most likely candidates for leadership of the OBC grouping, are in search of a leader. Tentatively they have zeroed in on superhero of Tollywood, Chiranjeevi. The gamble is that Chiranjeevi with his appeal cutting across castes might be able to weave a magic, in the same way that N T Rama Rao did 25 years ago. The problem? Chiranjeevi himself. Analysts across the board think that the star is not quite ready to take the jump into the ocean of politics. But the Kapus are keeping their fingers crossed. They know that if Chiranjeevi has to enter politics, it has to be now. Otherwise it will be too late to weld the Kapus together into a composite force.

No comments:

Google Custom Search