Friday, 6 May 2005

Chandrababu Naidu fails as Opposition leader

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, May 5: Telugu Desam supremo N Chandrababu Naidu may have excelled as chief minister for nine long years but has failed as leader of Opposition during the past 12 months.
Chandrababu Naidu completes one year in Opposition on May 14 and the performance he has put in since losing power is politically dismal, if the Telugu Desam's poor report card both inside and outside the State Assembly is any indication. The TD also failed to cash in on the lapses of the Congress government during this period. He did raise many issues but failed to take the fight to its logical conclusion, be it on irrigation projects or faction killings in Rayalaseema.
According to NTR Bhavan sources, as many as 10 factors worked against Chandrababu Naidu affecting his performance as the leader of the Opposition in the State. The TD supremo, who earned the dubious distinction of being the most heli-hopped politician Andhra Pradesh had ever seen, is now enconsed in NTR Bhavan hardly moving out of the city. He left Hyderabad only on four occasions to take up "people's cause" in the past 12 months whereas his bete noire Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy has moved closer to people though his weekly "batas" and prajapathams.
First, Chandrababu Naidu is faced with a peculiar political problem with his party legislators. Of the 46 TD MLAs, 20 are new without any political background. The remaining 26 are too senior to follow Chandrababu Naidu blindly. He did not succeeed in maintaining a balance in the Telugu Desam Legislature Party, which was reflected in the recent Budget session of the State Assembly. The TD benches had to eat the humble pie on every occasion they raised an important public issue, for the simple reason that the TDLP lacked floor coherence and proper political coordination. Consequently, Chandrababu Naidu had to fight a lone and toothless battle against the Congress government's wrong policies.
He also did not put across his united Andhra stand quite clearly. The TD did not take the opportunity to put TRS chief KCR in the dock on his "continued promises of delivering Telangana within three/six months". Its fight on GO 610 was also nominal.
Chandrababu Naidu's choice of six general secretaries has also worked against him. The general secretaries are interested more in excercising their powers rather than bringing about unity in the warring district factions. The TD district leadership has also abandoned Babu after the May 2004 Assembly defeat. "Though he is willing to tour districts, the local leadership is not ready to receive him. This is the reason why he has to put off his planned district tours. The former ministers are yet to come to the terms that they are no longer in power", a close confidant of Chandrababu Naidu told this correspondent.
Chandrababu Naidu did not succeed in producing concrete documentary evidence to corner the Congress government on irregularities in irrigation tenders. The party representatives attended four open forum meetings and except for levelling charges and using abusive language, they failed to produce anything in evidence to prove the accusations.
The TD supremo maintained good relations with the BJP and other NDA partners as chief minister. He has lost his political clout at the national level during the past 12 months. Chandrababu Naidu is also faced with dissidence from senior leaders while TDPP president K Yerran Naidu is ruling the roost in Delhi, much to the former's chagrin.
The YSR government faltered on more than half a dozen occasions and the TD leadership did not raise to the occasion to put the Congress administration in the dock.

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