Telugu Desam Party and Leadership Crisis
Mr Nara Chandra Babu Naidu started his political carrier in the Indian National Congress (INC) Party, but later on shifted to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), headed by Mr Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (NTR), a famous cine star turned founder of TDP, who captured Andhra Pradesh Chief Ministerial position within nine months of his party formation. In fact, Mr Chandra Babu Naidu was a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) and Minister in the INC, but shifted allegiance to TDP, primary, due to the best reasons known to him!! He used to be very close to NTR, as his Son-in-Law and enjoyed best political positions within the Party and in the Government under his leadership.
Anyhow, he was a successful person in overthrowing Mr NTR from power in 1995, on various grounds, of course with the active support of the NTR family members too. He was branded as highly selfish, cunning, untrustworthy, etc, by his own NTR family members after the political coup of NTR overthrow from the political position within the Party and from the Government. As per agreement between the NTR family members and Mr Chandra Babu Naidu, the later was supposed to elevate Dr Daggubathi Venkateswara Rao as Deputy Chief Minister of the State, who is his co-brother-in-law. But, he evaded this, for the consolidation of his political base and Chief Ministerial position. In the process of consolidating his political base, he attempted to suppress many, including the family members of NTR and TDP leaders or others. This nature of him was attributed and analyzed from his suspicious background towards others, with which he always sailed his life. It was highly believed that he never believes anyone, and wishes to suppress others, for the sustenance of his political base or otherwise. In this backdrop only one can observe and guess that he was not willing to offer Ministerial position to Mr K Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR), after 1999 general election, as a result Mr KCR launched his own political outfit Telangana Rastra Samithi (TRS)!! Many more instances can be put forward to justify this kind of perspective. Moreover the sad and sudden demise of Mr NTR in 1996 was also one of the key positive factors for the unchallenged political carrier of Mr Babu, apart from other political factors, like weak INC AP Unit, etc or mis-propagation of his regime in positive tone by the media, TDP-BJP electoral alliance, etc.
The Ramoji Rao’s Eenadu daily became a mouthpiece of Chandra Babu Naidu’s regime, which enjoyed unbeatable circulation in Andhra Pradesh’s print media during Babu’s regime. Some of the political analysts and INC Andhra Pradesh leaders too attributed TDP and Babu’s success during 1999 elections to his background (Eendau support). In fact, I can still recollect and imagine vividly the peaks of Eeandu’s yellow journalism of that particular time in favor of TDP and Mr Babu. I became very avers towards this daily and even today I don’t wish to read this newspaper for its peaks of yellow journalistic attitude!! Not only Eenadu, even the national media too started to project Mr Babu as an able administrator, visionary, intellectual, etc. This attitude of national media was understood from ‘paid news’ projection in favor of TDP and Mr Babu. In fact, Mr Babu had huge faith on media sector. His belief was that; whatever gets projected by media (in his favor) is taken for granted by the masses. So, if he can manage Media, his position is absolutely safe. Even, he had same kind of impression towards the Film stars and other actors who even acts in various television serials. He encouraged film stars, small screen serial actors too for his regimes campaign in positive mode. He had faith more on media, film and television actors, but not on party cadre, to carry forward the party’s ideology, government’s successful programmes etc. Of course, ideology of TDP or any other major political parties is a debatable issue.
In a way Mr Babu destroyed his Party structure. He is the sole responsible person for the destruction of Party cadre, base and structure. During NTRs regime there was strong and committed cadre. But, Mr Babu never tried to use Party cadre in a systematic manner. He acted as a CEO of a Company, rather than Party President and Chief Minister of a State, which is operating on democratic lines. His Party events represented Company’s organizational structure and look. The Party’s events were outsourced also for readymade look, like the events like Mahanadu, rallies, meetings, campaigns, etc, rather than utilizing party cadre and structure. There was huge discontent towards this nature of him, but, when he was in Chief Ministerial position party leaders and cadre kept quite. He allotted different constituencies to film personalities, business people, other party persons who defected to his party, etc, rather than to his own party cadre!! As a result, the party cadre, base, and structure too got damaged over the years. The persons who had been enjoying the political positions offered by him after getting elected to various representative bodies were not full-fledged politicians and such persons failed to be effective politicians even after their election, if happened. In this category we can observe plenty of personalities like Mr Babu Mohan, Dagubathi Ramanaidu, Mysoora Reddy, etc.
Mr Babu’s rule continued since 1995 to 2004 in autocratic way, without taking into consideration his Party properly. He used to self boost in front of media, that he was very hard working Chief Minister, who is working for eighteen hours per day, and his party cadre, leaders and government officials/employees were not working properly in order to fulfill his vision or peoples requirements, etc!! But, the counter argument runs in opposite way; that his regime had no productive engagements and outcomes, especially productive projects were not undertaken. He destroyed completely the agricultural sector. As a result, the Leader of the Opposition in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, from INC Dr Y S Rajashekara Reddy was successful; by promising that the Babu’s neglected areas would be revived and made profitable/serviceable to the masses!! And, in this direction Dr YSR was successful after capturing of political power, i.e. during 2004-2009. Mr Babu made little of Dr YSR’s promises and campaigned in negative during 2004 general election that YRS and INC electoral promises were not feasible. But, Dr YSR implemented many of his promised schemes, like free electricity supply, etc, to which Mr Babu campaigned was impossible!! As a result, Mr Babu lost the trust of the masses!! Mr Babu even failed to be a responsible Leader of the Opposition, especially since 2004!!
On the whole one can observe that as Mr Babu did not emerge in proper political structure, i.e. step by step by occupying different political positions, by understanding the genuine requirements and aspirations of the masses, etc. He failed to fulfill and solve the genuine problems of the masses. On the contrary, he was a product of Neo Liberal Economic policies era, which he intensely admired and implemented at the cost of his party, democratic spirit, and his political carrier. He treated sectors like software as the only essential priorities, and alleged that the sectors like agriculture were waste!!
After losing political power to INC headed Dr YSR; at certain points of time he started to appeal to the masses to believe him as he changed, and if his party is voted back to power he would be genuinely doing the service to the poor. But, TDP’s, along with INC base is increasing lost, after the demise of Dr YSR in 2009 and YSR Congress Party is increasingly gaining base across the three regions of Andhra Pradesh, along with TRS in Telangana.
TDP is basically launched and lead by Kamma’s, especially by the NTR family members. In the present circumstances change of leadership seems to be inevitable for TDP, as masses have lost faith on Mr Babu and as he also seemed to have failed as the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly. But, who can take over charge of the TDP. Mr Babu seems to be not interested to leave his position in the party. Can we expect any internal rebellion within the Party? Or will the party cadre shift to other political parties like YSR Congress Party, etc? Since 2004 most of the TDP cadre has been shifting their alliance to other political parties like INC, TRS, YSR CP, etc. Even the traditional caste groups like the Kapus are also distancing from it. Right now, TDP is in miserable position!! This crisis is perpetrated by inability of the Party cadre and leaders, who failed to set right their own political outfit. The party cadre and leaders failed to dare to change their leader. This kind of inability is mostly visible in most of the political parties, which are dominated by a single family lineage. Even, in the present circumstances, I don’t see able leadership in any of the NTR’s family members to bring back TDP’s past glory and make TDP to capture political power. Mr Babu aligned with Mr Nandamuri Taraka Balakrishna, one of the Sons and film successor to Late NTR by having matrimonial relation between his Son and Bala Krishna’s daughter. Mr Bala Krishna has been occasionally campaigning for TDP, but receiving poor response. Mr Hari Krishna, another Son of late NTR also seems to be not having charisma and caliber to lead and bring back TDP to power. During 2009 general elections Mr Junior NTR campaigned for TDP and received wide response from the masses. But, after the elections, Mr Babu distanced Mr Junior NTR, fearing that he would be losing his base to him. Mr Babu’s son Lokesh also failed to attract the masses.
Under the present circumstances TDP requires a visionary leader, who can consolidate and revise most of the Party strategies, policies, bring back new (caste) cadre/sections into its fold and confidently discharge responsible Opposition role and more over who can win the trust of the people!!