Optics matter in politics: Pictures of Jagan, Chandrababu with Modi make news

Here the question is not just one picture but a few photographs and an innocuously shot video at Rashtrapati Bhavan

Optics matter in politics: Pictures of Jagan, Chandrababu with Modi make news

HYDERABAD: A picture conveys a thousand words. Here the question is not just one picture but a few photographs and an innocuously shot video at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.

Well, the principal subjects of the two pictures are the political warlords in Andhra Pradesh – Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy and former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. The occasions were different, but what binds the two is a common thread of the duo coming face to face with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and what had transpired between them separately.

The two Andhra parties are vying with each other to "please" the powers that be in Delhi. The YSR Congress dextrously makes sure that its bonhomie with the BJP has always been issue-based, while the TDP has been making serious efforts to draw the eyeball of the BJP leadership for the last three years.

That Naidu walked out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 2018 and the subsequent political developments are common knowledge.

The latest 'shots' in the arm for both parties are paradoxical in nature. Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened the meeting of Chief Ministers, former Chief Ministers, and leaders of different political parties for the preparation of the celebrations of Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Saturday, August 6. While Jaganmohan Reddy "avoided" the meeting citing his prior commitments to attend a couple of weddings, Naidu, who has been waiting in wings, lapped up the opportunity and attended the meet.

As part of greeting the dignitaries who attended the meet, the Prime Minister went up to Naidu and met him. They might have had a tete-a-tete and exchanged pleasantries. The same night a video shot from a distance was "leaked" in the media where Modi and Naidu were conversing. The Telugu Desam Party "officially" did not release any picture or video of the Prime Minister and Naidu being together and maintained a strategic silence on the issue.

Not too surprisingly, it has left the 'command job' of weaving a story around the "event" to its friendly media houses. The media organisations went a little overboard and depicted a picture of an emotional reunion between the two long-last buddies and how affectionately they told each other about their yearning to meet again "at leisure". There was a picture where Modi and Naidu were talking to each other, but it was "officially" not released by the TDP for the reasons best known to the party strategists.

In sharp contrast, when Jagan came face to face with the Prime Minister, Modi held Jagan by his shoulder and apparently had a word with him. Jagan appeared to be at his politest best in reciprocating the gesture. Later, the Prime Minister hosted lunch at the NITI Aayog meet. On the head table, the Prime Minister played host to Jagan, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Assam Chief Minister Himantha Biswas Sharma, and Lieutenant Governors of two States.

The TDP's blitzkrieg over the camaraderie between Naidu and Modi came under criticism by the YSR Congress. Its official spokesperson and Government Advisor Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy alleged that Chandrababu Naidu did not have scruples and he was desparately trying to impress upon the BJP that he and actor Pawan Kalyan would help the BJP in Telangana. And, in return, the national party should support the TDP-Janasena combine in Andhra Pradesh.

YSR Congress MP Vijayasai Reddy too tried to douse the euphoria of the pro-TDP campaign by downplaying the 'bye' word – 'milenge' (let's meet up) in Hindi – by Modi to Naidu as just a usual expression while talking leave of someone. That doesn't literally mean he actually wanted to meet him again, and surely not as portrayed by a section of media.

The YSR Congress publicised that the BJP had sought its support in the elections of the President and the Vice-President, while the TDP in its "desperation" offered to support the NDA candidates "voluntarily". For Jagan, Modi's support is much needed to run the government what with the huge financial burden on the State exchequer. For Naidu, Modi's "blessings" are the need of the hour politically. Whatever, the pictures conveyed thousands of words. Optics matter in politics.

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