Chandrababu Naidu's rallies: Crowds that must worry YS Jagan, YSR Congress

Chandrababu Naidu has hit the road with a definite intention of launching a political tirade and, of course, a vilification campaign against the YS Jagan regime in AP

N Chandrababu Naidu

HYDERABAD: Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo and former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has hit the road with a definite intention of launching a political tirade and, of course, a vilification campaign against the YS Jaganmohan Reddy regime in Andhra Pradesh.

It's quite a few days since Naidu is on tours to many districts. He is literally storming many parts of the State and nowhere the meetings are a flop show. The resounding response to the huge rallies must indeed worry YSR Congress party (YSRCP) president YS Jaganmohan Reddy and his party leaders. They surely are living in a fool's paradise. They are passing their time with self consolation, suggesting that the crowds were fetched with the lure of money, food and booze. This isn't uncommon to any political party.

Jagan by far was the biggest crowd puller in the State, preceded by only one charismatic leader, the legendary N T Rama Rao. With the surge of population from NTR time to now may have multiplied the crowds attending public meetings and rallies addressed by leaders. People owned Jagan and rallied behind him as long as he played the victim card. But, three and a half years after being in the saddle, Jagan's meetings have lost their sheen. The YSR Congress is hardly organising any public shows with Jagan as the main speaker. Most meetings are held noticeably under pandals with chairs laid for seating the audience. The attendance in those meetings, usually organised by the government, are no different from such programmes organised by the erstwhile TDP Government when Naidu was the Chief Minister. Jagan isn't a great orator either. He is replicating the TDP Government's template. Worse still, he is copying Naidu by reeling out mundane numbers and boring statistics that do not impress the audience at political shows.

After all, Larry Tesler, the one who invented Ctrl C + Ctrl V (copy paste), is a guru to many in the world. Chandrababu Naidu did the Ctrl C + Ctrl V trick from Jagan's roadshows. Hence, the optics of the mammoth public meetings everywhere. But the crowds could only be projected as milling and the same could be magnified only if there is a sufficient crowd. However, if there is no crowd, the empty spaces cannot be optically filled. Therefore, it is a fact that Naidu is drawing crowds.

Jagan is not fighting the TDP alone. Movie actor Pawan Kalyan, who draws crowds because of his fan following owing to his movies, is overtly hand in glove with the TDP. The fledgling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Andhra Pradesh keeps on blowing hot and blowing cold at Jagan and his rule. It has not made it clear on whose fiddle it would play at the time of elections. What's more, Narendra Modi doesn't command the same popularity as he did in 2014. So, it doesn't matter in the State on which side of the bread the BJP would butter in the upcoming elections in 2024. Naidu and his media are sparing no efforts to somehow "perform a remarriage" between the TDP and the BJP. The Jana Sena has already opened its cards, their sequences and hence the consequences too.

Jagan, on his part, is forced largely to walk into the snare laid by the TDP by embarrassingly standing in defence to explain his position to the agenda set by the TDP and its affiliates -- the Jana Sena and the major vernacular newspapers, Eenadu and Andhra Jyothy, and TV Channel TV5, as publicly announced often by Jagan himself. The latest case in point is a news story highlighting the Jagan Administration's apathy towards pursuing the Metro Rail project for Vizag and Vijayawada. The Chief Minister in his meeting with the Prime Minister on December 28 was obliquely coerced into raising this issue and appealing to the latter to sanction the project.

This has undeniably exposed the shallowness of the ruling party. Governance issues, welfare schemes, stoppage of pensions (for whatever reasons) and the wily acts of omission and commission of elected representatives of the YSR Congress are coming under sharp criticism by the opposition.

Incentivising of a large number of people with schemes, doling out of largesse in the form of freebies and cash incentives may not keep Jagan's proverbial pot boiling for too long.

The political legerdemain of Jaganmohan Reddy's think tank too is tanking. And, Jagan has not made any amends to the charge that he's inaccessible, unlike his father the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, a charismatic leader.

Three and a half years is too short a period for a political party to amass huge negativity among electors. If it turns into anti-incumbency, situation would go out of control of Jagan. For, the forces working for the TDP and the main opposition party itself are all together could be described as a wounded tiger on the prowl. And, it's neither cliched nor an exaggeration to say this.

The YSR Congress may suggest that the public meetings of Naidu are conducted in narrow and capillary lanes and bylanes and the crowds are a combo of motley people and fetched paid-audience.

Nevertheless, the instantaneous response to the speeches, usually hackneyed, of Naidu are something that the YSR Congress must sit up and take note of. The whopping majority with which the party was elected in 2019 perhaps was a one-off event., if Jagan fails to repeat the feat.

The death of eight people in a stampede at Naidu's rally in a small town like Kandukur has to be seen from a wiser and wider perspective and not parochial. The unfortunate incident happened in Nellore district, a YSR Congress citadel. Naidu's rallies as part of "idem kharma" (what an ill-fate for the State) against Jagan's regime were a big draw even in Rayalaseema districts of Anantapur and Kurnool, as also in the North Coastal district of Vizianagaram.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted expressing condolences to the bereaved families following the stampede and announced an ex gratia of Rs.2 lakh each to them. This should be seen as a premise by Modi and the BJP to indicate that he is keeping his options open. End of the day, it's more to do with politics rather than personal egos and the BJP is very deft at that.

Brushing aside the popularity of Naidu and the TDP who won over 39 percent of votes will be perilous to the YSR Congress. The fighting spirit of Naidu, who has never been inaccessible whether in or out of power, cannot be either underestimated or undermined.

The proposed "Yuva Galam" (youth voice) padayata of Nara Lokesh for 4,000 km only to outwit the distance covered by Jagan is surely a clear cut strategy to combat the YSR Congress and fight it to the finish.

Are Jagan and his advisors seeing and listening? Or are they deliberately blind and deaf?

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