Intensifying his efforts for a rapprochement with the BJP ahead of the 2024 state and Lok Sabha elections, Andhra Pradesh’s former chief minister and TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “vision” and pledged support for his endeavours towards developing the nation.
Naidu’s statements surprised many since he had severed ties with the BJP in March 2019 in bitter circumstances, just before the elections. He snapped ties accusing the BJP of meting out grave injustice to Andhra Pradesh.
The Opposition leader made his latest statements lauding Modi while participating virtually in a two-day “Republic Summit” on Tuesday, 26 April
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Walked out of NDA in 2018
Naidu now appears to be in a mood to appease Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Though he had lauded Modi a few times after the 2019 polls, he had not openly endorsed the BJP-led national Democratic Alliance (NDA) government till Tuesday.
He also made an attempt to explain why he had quit the NDA.
“I came out of the NDA only on the issue of according special category status to Andhra Pradesh, which had become a sentiment in 2019. I fought against the Centre on that issue,” he said.
During his interaction with Republic Media Network, Naidu hailed Modi’s vision, saying he would associate his state and people to achieve the prime minister’s vision.
To a specific query on whether he was regretting snapping ties with the NDA, the former chief minister said: “I was offered seven-eight ministers. I never accepted it, but affirmed that I would work for the development of the nation. Politics is different. Development is different. I am with development.”
‘Completely in sync’
Naidu added that he was completely in sync with Modi’s vision.
“I am completely in sync with the prime minister’s vision. He is working for the development of the country and I am striving for the development of the Telugu people. Modi is displaying India’s strength to the world. He is leading the country with a vision to make it a super power,” he said.
Naidu has taken an U-turn by showering praises on Modi four years after a bitter personal diatribe against the prime minister.
He appeared to be an angry man before the 2019 polls as he went around the country to cobble up an anti-Modi alliance. Naidu had then said Modi that was dividing the nation and that he was insulting the people.
“Anybody is better than Narendra Modi because he is a negative character. The country lost so much,” Naidu said in a conversation with senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai before the 2019 polls.
He also touched a raw nerve by asking about Modi’s wife Jashoda Ben as well as the prime minister’s educational qualifications on two occasions before the 2019 polls.
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Calls Modi a ‘terrorist’
Addressing a public meetings in Madanapalle in Andhra Pradesh in April 2019, Naidu even called Modi a terrorist.
“Narendra Modi is a hardcore terrorist. He is not a good Samaritan. I request the minority brothers present here to remember only one thing. If you vote for Modi, many problems will arise. This Modi brought triple talaq act planning to put you behind bars, right,” Naidu said.
“I was the first person who demanded his resignation after the Gujarat riots. Later, most countries in the world banned his entry. After becoming the prime minister, he is once again trying to attack minorities,” Naidu said.
Attempt to build bridges
Political analysts are viewing Naidu’s latest comments as a desperate effort to mend broken bridges.
“This is nothing but showing Naidu’s desperation, especially when the BJP bosses are trying to rein in Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan from joining hands with the TDP,” political commentator and analyst Duggaraju Srinivas told South First.
“The BJP vote bank in Andhra Pradesh is not so crucial for any party, but the support from Delhi during the polls is what everyone looks for,” Srinivas opined.
“That’s why Naidu appears to be desperate to reach Modi as he had a bitter experience during the 2019 polls. I’m not sure how the BJP bosses will respond to these overtures of Naidu,” he added.
Also read: Jana Sena-TDP alliance all but sealed as Pawan Kalyan meets Naidu
TDP-Jana Sena-BJP alliance
Both Naidu and Pawan Kalyan are openly advocating the idea of the TDP-Jana Sena-BJP alliance ahead of the 2024 polls to take on YSRCP.
However, the BJP appears disinterested in forging such an alliance and wants Pawan Kalyan to stay away from the TDP.
Naidu’s latest comments are also being seen as the TDP taking a huge risk.
“Only time will tell whether it’s a successful strategy or not. An open endorsement means he is supporting Modi’s model of BJP socio-economic principles and policies,” political analyst and Navyandhra Intellectuals Forum Founder and Chairman Dr DAR Subramanyam said.
“With this endorsement, Naidu will definitely end up losing the few minority votes he may get,” he told South First.
“Due to his support of the BJP’s economic policies like privatisation, he will lose some more votes. Let’s look at politics now. Let us put aside the question of whether an alliance with the BJP is possible or not. At least an indication was given.
“It seems that he is pinning his hopes on Modi-BJP. Will the BJP votes transfer to the TDP? Doubtful. Will the BJP fans forget the past? In a gain-loss analysis, the TDP will lose more votes,” Subramanyam added.
Meanwhile, the ruling YSRCP cadres are having a field day by mocking Naidu and circulating old videos in which he had criticised Modi.
Interestingly, YSRCP leaders have not responded to Naidu’s statements.
“Why should we talk about Naidu’s comments about Modi? BJP is a nonentity in Andhra Pradesh and Naidu’s party had already lost its relevance. Talking about it will only give unnecessary importance to Naidu. People are watching how inconsistent Naidu has been. They are the better judges,” a senior YSRCP leader told South First.