In an apparent warm-up exercise for the 2014 electoral battle, which is expected to be fierce and even ugly, Telugu Desam president N.Chandrababu Naidu has begun cornering YS Jagan Mohan Reddy as he believes that the YSRC Party alone will be his party’s main opponent in the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions. Naidu seems to have come to the conclusion that he will have to weaken Jagan considerably to regain the political space that he lost to him.
Naidu is determined to shake off the hangover of the successive defeats since 2004 and is hoping for a turnaround in 2014 if he can handle Jagan.
He has prepared a strategy which he thinks will fetch him electoral dividends and has started implementing it assiduously. The first is the BC Declaration in which he promised 100 Assembly seats for Backward Classes. This is to consolidate the TDP’s hold on BCs in the wake of evidence that Jagan Mohan Reddy is nibbling at this vote bank.
Naidu has reiterated his commitment to categorisation of SCs which will please the Madigas. Naidu seems to be of the opinion that Malas, another powerful section of the SCs and who are firmly opposed to the Madiga demand for categorisation of SCs, are supporting Jagan and there is no point in trying to woo them. A TDP leader said Malas are numerically dominant among SCs in North Andhra and coastal Andhra, and Madigas in Telangana and Rayalaseema. Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti president Manda Krishna Madiga and several other Madiga leaders have already met TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and thanked him for supporting the demand for categorisation of SCs. After declaring its support for the demand for categorisation, the TDP has, to put its rival in a fix, asked the YSR Congress to spell out is stand on the issue knowing fully well that Jagan’s party cannot afford to demand categorisation and risk the wrath of the Malas.
Naidu is trying to create an impression that he is not against Telangana statehood without making any firm commitment. All that he has declared is that his party will write to the Centre on the issue. He has made this declaration more with an intent to impress the voters so that the TDP is not treated as a pariah in the region. The TDP is also trying to play the Rayalaseema card simultaneously by writing to the Centre to consider the demand for a separate Rayalaseema state. This strategy is aimed again at cornering Jagan and force him to spell out his stand on a separate Rayalaseema or not. A political analyst said the BC Declaration might influence the BCs in Telangana, North Andhra and Rayalaseema while Kammas, the party’s backbone, are numerically, and economically strong in coastal districts.