Is Naidu treading the Hindutva path to salvage its sagging position in AP?

Amaravati: It is true that the future of TDP leader N. Chandrababu Naidu rests on his mettle to wage a militant fight against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy and survive the present moments of crisis.

But, will Naidu really get the much-needed lease of life by demonizing his rival on vandalizing Hindu temples in the state?

That Naidu finds himself on the same page with BJP and its parent body Rastriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) in blaming the 16-month old Jaganmohan Reddy government raises this question.

Naidu and his party day in and day out began to speak the language of Hindu radicals on the `lack of security’ for Hindu deities in the government headed by a Christian. The BJP state party, led by Somu Veerraju, a hardcore RSS worker, swung into action to whatever it could do to propel communal divide in the state.  Raju’s predecessor Kanna Lakshminarayana, an outsider from the parivar group with Congress background campaigned on bread and butter issues such as capital shifting to the displeasure of the RSS top brass. Eventually, the baton was passed on to Veerraju to focus more on pursuing Hindutva agenda and striving for polarization in the state politics on religious lines. Immediately after his take over, chariot burning at a Hindu temple in Antarvedi in East Godavari, missing of figurines at Kanaka Durga temple, a spate of attacks on several Hindu temples and the row over self-declaration by non-Hindu believers on entry into the shrine at Tirumala came in handy for the hardcore Hindutva leaders at the helm in the state BJP.

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Wittingly or unwittingly, Naidu walked into the BJP’s trap in a hurry to settle scores with his rival by whipping up   communally sensitive issues. He is doing all this unmindful of the fact that the saffron party is trying to enter the opposition’s space by edging out his own party by all means. Naidu’s brinkmanship may prove him costly in the near future. The BJP has perfected the art of pillion-riding with the two-arch rivals-TDP and the YSRC. The passage of agriculture bills in the Rajya Sabha for which the BJP did all maneuvers to muster support from both the rivals substantiates its game plan.

Though Naidu’s party has aligned with the BJP in the past it is still regarded as a secular party by minorities in Andhra Pradesh. It’s Naidu as a key partner in the NDA government at the time of Atal Behari Vajpayee who pressed for resignation of Narendra Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat in the post-Godhra riots in 2002.

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Naidu has to keep in mind the fact that the rise of BJP in his home state is a peril to his own party. The TDP and the BJP share a common vote bank comprising Brahmins, Vysyas and Kammas. The sterling performance of BJP in the 1998 Parliament elections with a vote share of 19.50 percent on an alien land like Andhra Pradesh suggested migration of TDP voters to the saffron party on a large-scale. Disenchantment against the TDP then triggered a major shift in its voters.

Andhra Pradesh, mostly inhabited by Hindus, is home to communal harmony and coexistence among people of all faiths. Muslims, account for 11 percent, and Christians and Dalits together making up much larger social group, present a semblance of communal peace for long.

After all, victory and defeat are a part of the game, more so in politics. Driving a wedge between the religions just to win the game may be self-defeating for the party founded by movie mogul NT Rama Rao nearly four decades ago.

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