AP’s clandestine politics continues in the spell of SKC’s Chapter 8

By: Amar Nath

The role of 3 TDP MPs in the recent vote for FDI has again bought into forefront that clandestine politics that are now underway in Andhra Pradesh. The 3 MPs Sujana Chowdary, Devender Goud, G Sudharani are multimillionaires and none have them have the UPA’s CBI breathing down their neck for anything. Therefore, there isn’t a reason for them to get either tempted or intimidated by the UPA. In fact, all 3 are handpicked by Chandrababu Naidu for Rajya Sabha despite stiff opposition from within his party. There is every reason to believe that the MPs did what they did, upon Naidu’s direction.

How the main political parties like Congress and TDP have made covert politics as a norm, rather than an exception, would be understood if we look at events of the past 3 years. It has been 3 years since the Indian government’s Telangana statehood declaration on Dec 9, 2009. The clandestine and manipulative politics that started that midnight unleashed a chain of events that are still unfolding today, further degenerating AP’s politics.

While it is not unthinkable that now and then a politician gets some clandestine support from the opposing party, especially during elections, the kind of cross-party secret dealings presently underway in AP between are astounding and hard not to notice.

The beginning of the ‘support mechanism’

The secret part of SriKrishna Committee (SKC) report, Chapter 8, put in lurid detail how these covert politics were already underway by the time the report was released on 30 December 2010 (The secret ‘Chapter 8’, as you may know, was later leaked inadvertently). To contain the Telangana statehood issue, the SriKrishna Committee’s infamous chapter 8 made the following suggestions (in its own words) –

“.. the ruling party and also the main opposition party ( the TDP run by Chandra Babu) must be brought on the same page, the support mechanisms have a higher probability of becoming successful. The TDP must be advised not to participate in any further meetings that would be called by the Centre. This could be an effective stumbling block for any meaningful dialogue on resolving the Telangana demand. The Andhra Congress MPs belonging to Kamma caste must be encouraged to work in tandem with TDP leadership which is now caught in a bad shape.

Further, on receipt of the Committee’s Report by the Government, a general message should be conveyed amongst the people of the State that Centre will be open for detailed discussions on the recommendations / options of the Report with the concerned leaders / stakeholders either directly or through a Group of Ministers or through important interlocutors and that this process will start at the earliest. But every method must be adopted to avoid giving finality to any discussions to drag on the matter until the agitation is totally brought under control.

(c) Media Management:

(i) Andhra Pradesh has got about 13 Electronic Channels and 5 major local Newspapers which are in the forefront of molding the public opinion. Except for two Channels ( Raj News & HMTV), the rest of them are supporters of a united Andhra Pradesh. The equity holders of the channels except the above two and the entire Print Media are with the Seemandhra people. The main editors/ resident and subeditors, the Film world etc. are dominated by Seemandhra people. A coordinated action on their part has the potential of shaping the perception of the common man. However, the beat journalists in the respective regions are locals and are likely to capture only those events/ news which reflect the regional sentiments. This can be tackled by the owners of the media houses by systematically replacing the local journalists by those from Seemandhra wherever it is possible.”

The ‘support mechanism’ flourishes

True to the Chapter 8’s revelations, the Congress and the TDP are playing hide and seek in declaring their stand publicly on Telangana and are making sure there is no forward movement on Telangana. Both the parties solidly backed the crackdown on the Telangana agitation which even resulted in fatal injuries to agitators. The result is that both the parties lost all 18 seats in Telangana the by-elections were held for, in last 3 years. Their party candidates, In fact, got their deposits only in a 2 or 3!

Meanwhile, even as the 2 parties crumbled in Telangana, YS Jaganmohan Reddy challenged the Congress leadership for chiefministership and formed the YSRCP, which has been growing in strength in Seemandhra. In this context, the chapter 8’s ‘guidelines’ took a larger meaning for TDP and Congress. The Congress and TDP extended their cooperation beyond the Telangana issue. They needed a policy of continued quid pro quo between them to politically survive, as their very existence is under threat.

While the Congress helps Naidu get around the CBI investigation unleashed by the High court, he would in turn not press for the no- confidence motion against the Congress government in the state at the most opportune times. Even while the Congress government crackdowns on any meeting, rallies in support of Telangana agitation in ruse of ‘law and order’ problem, it would go out of its way to facilitate Naidu’s yatras into Telanagana with unprecedented police security and thousands of TDP’s armed men. In return, Naidu would let the government just be, even without pressing for a winter assembly session! TDP’s stance with the Congress is once again belied with its MPs’ absence at the FDI vote in Rajya Sabha. True to the spirit of Chapter 8, both the pro-establishment and pro-TDP media continues to propagate how Naidu is ‘hurt’ by this betrayal, while it’s the MPs who were made scapegoats by Naidu, for his own political survival. And the drama goes on. There is nothing anymore that distinguishes the Congress and TDP or YSRCP. All play the same game they mastered in last 3 years. Nothing they say is trusted anymore; it is mere entertainment – an ongoing soap opera.

A real government and a real opposition?

The big question is – would these main parties ever get normal again – into a real government and a real opposition? Or would they continue being under the spell of Chapter 8’s ‘support mechanism’ with these backroom deals?

The SKC set about ‘shaping the perception of the common man’ by suggesting manipulative politics and ‘media management’. Instead these strategies recommended by SKC reshaped AP’s political spectrum by destroying the 2 strongest parties in the state.

Did the suggestions reshape the perception common man? Yes, surely they did, in a large part of AP. So much so that an imminent election would wipe out these 2 parties from their roles in government and principal opposition into 3 and 4 positions and ends the ‘support mechanism’ for the good. Till then, the genie unleashed by SKC Chapter 8 would continue to hold its spell on AP’s politics.

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