What is tormenting the Telugu Desam Party is why did Prime Minister Narendra Modi give audience to Opposition leader YS Jagan Mohan Reddy the other day.
At a time when they wanted to see the YSRC chief behind bars, the tete-a-tete between the two leaders has come as a disquieting development for them.
Their anxiety is understandable since they are part of the NDA and Jagan Mohan Reddy is their enemy, not just a political rival. For the TDP, its foe should be the foe of all the partners of the NDA, and it is fair enough, but while slamming Jagan Mohan Reddy they had overdone it, making one wonder if they had sensed any change in the political kaleidoscope in the future in the footsie that Modi played with Jagan Mohan Reddy.
The YSRC chief’s announcement of his unconditional support to the NDA in the ensuing presidential poll immediately after his meeting with Modi, has set off speculation that it might be signalling the emergence of new relationship and whether Modi is going to switch friends. Maybe it could be his way of keeping the TDP under check.
For the last two and half years, the TDP leaders were unhappy over the way the CBI was dragging its feet in pursuing cases that had been registered against Jagan Mohan Reddy and they, in hushed voices, wonder why the BJP is not serious about it.
Taunting the TDP, the YSRC leaders kept claiming that Jagan Mohan Reddy during the exclusive meeting had handed over documentary evidence to the Prime Minister on TDP regime’s ‘corruption’.
Though it was a day of mourning for the TDP leaders since Municipal Administration Minister P Narayana’s son died in a road accident in Hyderabad earlier in the day, ministers Devineni Umamaheswara Rao and K Atchannaidu, launched a vituperative attack on Jagan Mohan Reddy. They pounced on him saying that he went to Delhi to touch Modi’s feet only to wriggle himself out of the cases of corruption in which he had been stuck. Without realising that the BJP might take offence, they went on to say Modi should not have given appointment to the YSRC chief. BJP AP affairs in-charge Siddharth Nath Singh who was in Vijayawada, wondered what was wrong if the Prime Minister met Jagan Mohan Reddy since he is an Opposition leader in the State. As regards cases, he said it was courts which deal with them and not the Prime Minister.
A section of the State BJP leaders, not very happy with the big brother attitude of the TDP, decided that it was time for them to pay back. They went after the TDP leaders since very recently BJP chief Amit Shah reportedly told a delegation of the party from the State that they should assert themselves in Andhra Pradesh rather than approaching him with complaints that the TDP was ignoring them since a party in power always tends to act that way only. BJP floor leader in the Assembly P Vishnukumar Raju said just because the TDP is a partner in the NDA, it does not mean that the Prime Minister should consult it before meeting the Opposition leader. “Jagan Mohan Reddy had secured only six lakh votes less than the TDP in the last elections which accounts for just 2 per cent,” he said.
He tried to take the wind out of sails of the TDP that Atchannaidu himself said in the Assembly in the past that he had no evidence to prove that Jagan Mohan Reddy had amassed wealth through dubious methods and therefore the argument that Modi met a man with a criminal background does not hold water. “It is a very immature line of thinking,” Raju said.
The YSRC, washing the dirty linen in the public, questioned as to why the TDP leaders sat bolt upright when Jagan Mohan Reddy met the Prime Minister. “I don’t understand why the TDP instead of welcoming the meeting since the YSRC chief pledged his support in the presidential election to the NDA, was questioning the wisdom of the Prime Minister in granting interview to him,” YSRC MLA RK Roja said.
When the BJP leaders began expressing their annoyance at the TDP showing displeasure over Modi giving audience to Jagan Mohan Reddy, the TDP leaders piped down a bit. As Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu was returning home from the US tour, they apparently decided to leave it to the party chief to sort it out with the BJP national leadership rather than making hasty statements and hurting the feelings of the BJP leaders further. It is likely that Naidu might take the right approach to nip the friendship between Modi and Jagan Mohan Reddy in the budding stage itself.
R Prithvi Raj
Assistant Resident Editor, Vijayawada