PM Modi Cautious On `King Maker’ Chandrababu Naidu!

Saturday, July 20, 2024

After Narendra Modi-led BJP failed to get an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha and N Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP emerged as the second largest party within NDA, national media started to mention that Naidu once again emerged as `King Maker’ in national politics.

Hailed as kingmaker of the United Front coalition government in 1996,  Chandrababu Naidu, then chief minister of an undivided Andhra Pradesh, famously said he had been offered the prime minister’s post but had declined it.

Serving his home state remained his top priority, he’d said. Nearly three decades later, in a political career that saw him flirting with both the BJP and Congress, Naidu has again emerged as `Kind Maker’ to decide the destiny of NDA 3.0.

This has naturally become a setback to PM Modi, whose exposure to coalition politics was practically nil. Moreover, he has the track record of pushing away several trusted and long-stand allies like Akali Dal, Shiv Sena, JD(U) and TDP.

His cabinet formation reveals that he is not ready to give prominence to allies in his government. He has kept all key ministries on his trusted BJP colleagues, whose  rapport with the public is dismal. He is not even ready to share his burdens with popular BJP leaders too.

The bondage exhibited by Modi with Naidu at the latter’s swearing-in ceremony, was never known earlier. Till one week before AP polling, he practically avoided sharing dais with Naidu or even a meeting with him. But knowing that his preferred YCP is going to be rooted out, political compulsions make him come closer to Naidu.

Among all, Modi is said to be only careful on how Naidu would influence his government on policy issues. Naidu’s track record states that he will never bargain for cabinet berths or nominated positions for his party colleagues. He always insists on policy issues.

It is believed that Naidu, an astute strategist, might give Modi a lesson or two in politics by consensus. Will Naidu (74), fourth-time chief minister, find himself playing a transformative role in shaping the policies of the Central government while downsizing the Modi–Shah combine?

After his 52-day incarceration last year, in an alleged skill development scam, it seemed Naidu’s political career was over. But he bided his time and saw the opportunity to bounce back when it looked like Jagan was facing an anti-incumbency wave.

“From my experience of working with Naidu’s government in the past, I can say he is clear about what he wants from the Centre. When he walked out of the NDA in 2018, special category status was the key issue. He’ll certainly revive that demand. He will also ask for quick completion of the Polavaram irrigation project and substantial financial help for Amaravati,” said Dr Parakala Prabhakar, economist and husband of finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

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