Chandrababu’s teflon image wearing off?

By: Amar Nath

Chandrababu Naidu till now successfully cultivated in the media, an image of a visionary and even a future Prime Minister. He was given the sobriquet of ‘Hitech Babu’ by the mainstream and powerful Andhra media, which at the same time referred to Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao’ as ‘Scamulaparthi’, making a pun on his surname Pamulaparthi, thereby propagating that he was a master of scams. Such Goebbels propaganda on the part of Andhra media houses like Eenadu worked. A great intellectual and unselfish statesman like PV Narasimha Rao is now ignored and forgotten. Chandrababu Naidu, on the other hand, was given a teflon image as a Telugu statesman and modern administrator. That is till he made his way to New Delhi for the ‘indefinite fast’. After he exposed himself directly with national media first time in a decade, Brand Chandrababu is now fast unraveling.

Chandrababu Naidu is a 2 term chief minister of State of Andhra Pradesh. So there is certain degree of credibility that is expected from his words. Not too long ago, when the Telangana agitation is at its peak, Naidu made it a point to tour the Telangana region, despite the opposition from agitators who questioned his anti-Telangana stance. While the Kiran Kumar Reddy led AP Government (which now has publicly taken an anti-Telangana stance) actively supported him with thousands of police forces, Naidu himself traveled in a convoy of hundreds of vehicles with armed men. His supporters terrorized and attacked all opposition on the convoy’s way reminiscent of the territorial invasions in medieval times while Naidu was having a series of meetings with his cadre. He repeatedly said TDP is ‘not opposed to Telangana’ and further challenged TRS, BJP and other outfits in TJAC to go to Delhi and do dharna in front of Sonia Gandhi’s house to achieve Telangana State, as Congress is the one in power to concede Telangana. TDP party men in Telangana like Yarrabelli Dayakara Rao seconded that by saying they would join TJAC constituents for a dharna in front of Sonia Gandhi’s house. What an irony now, that Naidu would sit on an ‘indefinite fast’ in Delhi precisely because Sonia Gandhi led UPA alliance conceded Telangana!

The Making of Brand Chandrababu:

It is not that people of Andhra Pradesh completely bought the media built image of Chandrababu from his ruling years. If that is the case he wouldn’t have lost 2 straight elections in the state. However, when he was not busy implementing World bank’s agenda on economic and industrial reforms in the State and ordering police to shoot at rallies and kill agitators, he focused on bringing IT jobs to AP. He happened to be the Chief Minister of the State when the country was riding the wave of ‘Scamulaparthi’s open market reforms and the resultant IT boom. Taking the beaten track of Bangalore and Chennai, its southern cousins, Hyderabad joined the IT bandwagon, which opened up employment opportunities in IT and Pharma sectors. Mr Naidu went out of his way inviting investors to consider Hyderabad instead of Bangalore. The Andhra media, dominated by TDP entrepreneurs, quickly seized the moment and built a story out of it effectively saying that if not for Naidu, IT would have never come to India. Whereas the fact of the matter was that Hyderabad was not even in the top 4 IT destinations during Naidu’s tenure and that Bangalore was way ahead as a pioneer in attracting IT companies by the time Naidu came in. But the PR exercise worked in fixing Naidu’s image problem then which was result of all the public thamasha people have seen while Naidu was overthrowing NTR out of power and party. And of course the image building worked with an entire generation of youth employed in IT who still believe they owe their career, and some, even their life, to Mr. Naidu’s initiative!

The national media too joined the PR party when Naidu became convener of the United Front in the center (1996-98) and a key player in NDA (1998-2004). That was enough time for building a teflon image.

The unmaking of Brand Chandrababu:

Time and again TDP declared they are not opposing Telangana and to support that assertion, they gave multiple letters to Union Government and the committees it constituted. Soon after July 30 CWC resolution, Mr Naidu accepted it and demanded the central government to earmark Rs 5,00,000 Crore for Andhra’s new capital! Even as he made that statement, his party men started making noise about how Congress conspired to break up Telugus in Andhra Pradesh by demerging Telangana from Andhra. They held up parliament sessions with their slogans and supported bandhs in Andhra region. Now when national media gathers around him in Delhi and asks about his stance on Telangana – whether to go ahead with creation of the State or not, he glibly avoids answering it and equates deciding on that would be equal to choosing between own children, which no parent can do. Once, he would say TDP’s earlier support to Telangana was conditional and the next moment he would say no, that’s not the case. He accuses Congress of ‘playing politics’ with the issue till the interviewer Karan Thapar, reminds him ‘political parties are for playing politics’. He would not commit on how long he will fast nor will he say what will make him withdraw his fast! He asks central government to invite all JACs from Andhra and Telangana for talks ‘to sort out issues’. The TJAC volunteers were the ones who were beaten to pulp by his henchmen when he toured Telangana as discussed above. It is amazing he is rolling out a red carpet for them now. But then they would ‘Thanks, but no Thanks’. For, it is to TJAC, like going on a blind date with the same girl they are about to marry the next day, after years of courtship! When he mentions there are many issues like waters and revenue sharing to be discussed, Karan Thapar reminds him the GoM is setup for the same purpose! Clueless Naidu has no way to justify his fast and the noises of injustice he was making. Karan Thapar asks him whether he is doing the whole exercise for his political future in Andhra or for delaying Telangana. Naidu then complains the Congress and whole national media is counter-attacking him on the issue. The whole episode put Babu in a very bad light and surely made national media review their perception of him as a modern day politician and administrator. The teflon image is wearing off and an indecisive and insecure politician is revealed on national TV. Things that were too obvious to only people of AP till now are now national knowledge, and even international, going by this tweet of the reputed UK newspaper ‘The Independent’.”

Instead of going to Delhi and daring the UPA chairperson in Italian, Naidu would have done lots of good for Telugus and his own party by staying in Hyderabad and spelling his stand clearly in Telugu! Instead of struggling in English by repeatedly saying ‘What I am saying..’, he should ask himself as to whether his words are saying anything at all. By the way, neither indecisiveness nor lack of language skills are the ‘assets’ of Ex-PM ‘Scamulaparthi’ Narasimha Rao. Nothing characterizes decisiveness in modern Indian history more than PV’s steadfast support and backing of his finance minister Manmohan Singh’s economic reforms in 1990s. Just imagine how many U-Turns and P-turns souls like Naidu would have taken if he were in PV’s shoes. Are the Goebbels listening?

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