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Posted at: May 21, 2019, 6:44 AM; last updated: May 21, 2019, 6:44 AM (IST)

Naidu jumps the gun

Andhra CM clutching at straws ahead of poll results
Naidu jumps the gun

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu is a busy man these days, perhaps the busiest among top Opposition leaders. Dismissive of the exit polls that are predicting another term for the NDA, this prime ministerial hopeful is going all out to forge a non-BJP alliance. During his whirlwind trips to New Delhi and Lucknow in recent days, he has already met the top brass of the Congress and other parties. Infamous for switching loyalties, he is said to be citing a ‘favourable’ exit poll which is giving barely 180 seats to the saffron party.

Naidu, who broke ranks with the NDA last year over the delay in granting special status to AP, is second only to Mamata Banerjee in confronting PM Modi. In February, he had held a daylong hunger strike during his Dharma Porata Deeksha (protest for justice) in Delhi after the PM took potshots at him at a rally in Guntur. However, he is surely punching well above his weight ahead of the poll results. His party is at best a regional outfit that might struggle to match its 2014 tally of 15 Lok Sabha seats. The CM’s proactive approach on the national stage is baffling as he already has his hands full in his own state. Naidu is not only fighting anti-incumbency but also a spirited challenge from Jaganmohan Reddy-led YSR Congress Party in the Assembly as well as parliamentary elections.

In an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana, Shiv Sena has hit the nail on the head by saying that Naidu is ‘unnecessarily exhausting himself by running from pillar to post as there is no guarantee of this possible coalition staying intact by the time the results are out on May 23’. Naidu should confine himself to a supporting role commensurate with the TDP’s stature. After the results, it’s the Congress that should take the lead in stitching a post-poll alliance of Opposition parties. Such a ‘mahagathbandhan’ can become a force to reckon with only if the major players find common ground and present a credible alternative to the electorate in the long run.

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