Why is Telugu Desam chief N Chandrababu Naidu opposing Anna Hazare floating a new political party and why is he chanting the Baba Ramdev mantra?
The reason is not hard to find. The TDP leadership apprehends that Anna Hazare’s proposed party might divide the anti-Congress vote in the next general election. In the 2009 general election Jayaprakash Narayan’s Lok Satta Party did a lot of damage to TDP prospects in several urban Assembly constituencies. TDP leaders cite this as one important reason for the party’s electoral drubbing and fear a repeat if Anna Hazare’s party takes a plunge into electoral battle.
Though the TDP has supported Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption and Naidu participated in several protest programmes organised by Hazare and himself organised people’s rallies all over the state, it does not want Hazare to float a political party on October 2 as announced.
On the other hand, Naidu is game for Baba Ramdev’s crusade against corruption since the Yoga guru does not want to start a political party but wants to fight against the evil on a non-political basis.
TDP leaders recall what a spoilsport the Lok Satta Party had played that marred the TDP’s chances. The LSP secured more than 5 per cent vote in 20 Assembly constituencies damaging TDP’s prospects. In Musheerabad, Jubilee HIlls and Serilingampally the LSP secured as high as 10.15 per cent vote.
The party polled 27,343 votes in the Serilingampally Assembly constituency. In 15 other constituencies the party got 5.16 per cent to to 10.95 percent votes. TDP leaders, knowing the kind of damage the LSP had done, do not want another party to jump into the fray which will further reduce the margins of its candidates.
Telugu Desam Parliamentary Party leader Nama Nageswara Rao and several other MPs attended the recent Baba Ramdev dharnna in Delhi. TDP leaders said Ramdev had strong support from the middle clas in urban and rural areas all over the country. If they could strengthen the hands of Ramdev, that might avert a split in the anti-establishment vote.
Naidu is of the view that social workers and reformists should not float political parties. He feels that political parties should lead people’s movements and act as pressure groups and recalled LSP’s failure to become a major political party.
K Nageshwar, MLC, said during a TV show that it would be very difficult for the Anna team to succeed in politics. “If any movement transforms into a political party, the team members should have an ideology and commitment and a specific action plan to achieve the objectives of the party. Till now, the Anna team had not announced its programmes and policies, he said. Differences in the Anna team would create more hurdles for Anna to run the political party, he predicted.
According to BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu, Anna’s party will become another Lok Satta Party at the national level.