Thursday, August 16, 2018 06:00 PM

How and why Chandrababu Naidu's national political clout diminished over a period of time?

Five factors seem to have contributed to the diminishing national clout of Chandrababu Naidu. First, the BJP's consolidation leading to it assuming office on its own, second, the emergence of many more regional parties and satraps, third, the bifurcation of the state resulting in reduced representation for Andhra Pradesh in the Lok Sabha, fourth, the presence of competing regional players in the state so that national parties can pick and choose, and finally the fifth, which is Naidu losing credibility as he frequently shifted his loyalties.

The state has only 25 seats in the Lok Sabha while undivided Andhra Pradesh had 42 seats. Besides, the cut-throat competition due to the presence of competing regional players gives no scope for Naidu to monopolise the mandate in the state.

Politics is, obviously, the story of numbers whether one likes it or not. The regional satraps in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu are now more powerful than Telugu leaders.

Meanwhile, the presence of two competing regional players gives the national parties an option to choose their regional ally.

On the contrary, during his heyday, Naidu was the principal opponent of Congress in the state and was the darling of non-Congress parties like BJP during the first NDA regime and even the non-Congress and non-BJP parties. But, in today's Andhra Pradesh, both the national parties have become more or less irrelevant.

As Chandrababu Naidu could make and break alliances, his credibility as a trusted ally took a serious beating. Narendra Modi was, thus, unsure of Naidu's support right from the beginning and BJP was always in the search of an alternate ally in the form of YSR Congress.

The last two to three decades have seen the emergence and consolidation of many regional parties across the nation. The self-disruptive disintegration of the Janata experiment and later Janata Dal gave rise to many parties. The national political spectrum is now full of several regional satraps and Chandrababu Naidu is one among them thus losing his profile as the strong man of regional politics.

The elevation of Mamata Banerjee and attempts by K Chandrasekhar Rao, etc, reveal this trend of the presence of multiple regional parties. Finally, since 2004, Indian politics is witnessing a revival of national parties. Congress gained strength in 2004 and subsequently in 2009 elections leading to lesser vulnerability to pulls and pressures of regional allies.

This revival of national parties reached culmination with the rise of Modi-led BJP that could win a popular mandate on its own though it still shares power as part of its politics of accommodating allies.

Despite the growing noise of regional parties, the fact is that at least BJP is not unduly worried about any threats from its allies especially the TDP.

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