Revenge is best served cold and what better than N. Chandrababu Naidu’s state of affairs to illustrate that. In his last interview before his death, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder N.T Rama Rao had told Reuters that he would “gain his revenge against ‘the backstabbers’ in his family,” pointing a finger to his son-in-law Chandrababu Naidu. He also stated, “His days are numbered”. NTR’s words have turned out to be prophetic and even though he isn’t around to see it, Naidu’s reckoning is here.
Naidu’s overly ambitious dreams and characteristics of a chameleon have driven most of his life. An opportunist man no doubt, his close association with former Youth Congress President Sanjay Gandhi right after the emergency and then his subsequent switch to NTR led TDP has been nothing short of brilliant political moves. Alas, the overconfidence made him try and fit inside boots which were too big for him. Marrying NTR’s daughter and quickly rising up to the position of 2nd in command gave him a taste of power which henceforth dictated all his actions.
The first unwise move had been to stage a coup against his own mentor and father in law, party founder NTR. In August 1995, Chandrababu Naidu and one of NTR’s sons, Harikrishna Rama Rao, led a revolt in the state assembly that ousted NTR and replaced him with Naidu. Naidu then went on to become the CM of Andhra Pradesh for the next decade.
This marked a bitter feud within the family. Not only NTR but the entire nation, including all the opposition parties, were aware of Naidu’s deception driven by his hunger for power. NTR had once, in an interview to Reuters, compared himself to Shah Jehan, a 17th-century Mughal emperor who was imprisoned by his son. His wife, Lakshmi Parvathi said, “NTR was never awarded the Bharat Ratna because of Chandrababu Naidu, who never even wrote a letter recommending his name.”
After being in power for a decade, Naidu lost his post in 2004 to the Congress under the leadership of YS Rajasekhara Reddy, who retained the post for the next decade until 2014. Thereafter, being a part of NDA, Naidu was awarded cabinet berths in the 1st Modi government and also won the popular support in the state after bifurcation and was elected as the CM of Andhra Pradesh in 2014.
Yet, the chameleon leader remained as is and in 2018, broke aware from the NDA. Subsequently, when K Chandrashekhar Rao resigned from the post of CM in Telangana paving way for early elections, Naidu jumped in to show his strength on the national level. Betraying the very principles his party was founded upon, the TDP leader joined hands with Congress to form an alliance called Mahakutami which was squarely rejected by the people of Telangana. Despite being cut to size by the people of Telangana, Naidu refused to learn any lessons.
In 2019, for incomprehensible reasons, Naidu saw the post of the Prime Minister well within his reach and ran a bitter campaign against PM Narendra Modi in the run-up to the elections 2019. 23 seats out of the total 175 Assembly constituencies in the state and 3 parliamentary constituencies in the state is all that Naidu is left with, after the 2019 elections.
Just when one thought that Chandrababu Naidu has paid for his sins with a heavy price, his MP’s have “pulled a Naidu on him”. Completely going against the wishes of Naidu, four TDP MPs in Rajya Sabha out of a total number of six have joined the BJP claiming they want to “contribute in the development of the nation” and that they are “inspired by PM Modi’s leadership”. The four TDP MPs who have joined the BJP include, YS Chowdary, TG Venkatesh, CM Ramesh and GM Rao. The TDP Rajya Sabha MPs have also passed a resolution to merge the legislature party of TDP with the BJP. This is permissible by law as according to the anti-defection law, two-thirds of a legislature party can shift loyalties and merge into another party without losing their membership.
Chandrababu Naidu has no one to blame for his woes than himself. All his life, he has been switching alliances and betraying his mentor had been the worst of his sins. NTR had predicted a severe political decline for the leader. Not only has the 2019 election seen to that but also Karma has given him a taste of his own medicine. The sheer disregard for anything; be it, associations, ideology or loyalty and abiding by his hunger for power has turned out to be his worst mistake. The man, who betrayed the very principles of his party, betrayed his mentor and the mandate of the people, was bound to get his comeuppance. After 24 long years, Naidu’s reckoning is nothing short of sweet poetic justice.