Travelling and interacting with people throughout the length and breadth of Andhra Pradesh state is a rich experience itself. The mood and general feeling among the people cutting across caste, religion and class differences is steadfastly in favour of Chandrababu Naidu. People in Andhra Pradesh state want maintenance of law and order, peace, development and progress. They say under YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s rule, law and order went for a toss and the entire economy of the state has been destroyed.
Senior citizens remember how Andhras had lost everything when Andhra state was carved from the erstwhile Presidency in 1953. As part of the Composite Madras State, Andhras had invested heavily in the then Madras. They were responsible for the development of the Telugu film industry, making Coimbatore an industrial corridor. When Andhras felt that they were given a raw deal, they agitated for a separate Telugu state and it became a reality with Potti Sriramulu undertaking a fast unto death for the same cause. Despite severe resistance by the then Madras government under the leadership of C Rajagopalachari, then PM Pandit Nehru had to accept the reorganisation of states on linguistic basis. Andhra state was formed with Kurnool as the Capital. After the erstwhile Nizam state joining the Indian Union, in 1956, Andhra State was merged with the Nizam’s Hyderabad State and it gave birth to United Andhra Pradesh. People from Andhra region invested heavily in Hyderabad, neglecting their own cities and towns. When united AP State was bifurcated in 2014, they again became rootless.
The people in the new Andhra Pradesh had given a clear mandate to Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP which had an alliance with the BJP. This is due to the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of the election campaign in Tirupati spoke about the injustices being meted out to Andhra Pradesh at the time of bifurcation and promised that he would give AP special status, make the Polavaram Irrigation project a national project, develop Amaravathi as the state’s capital with Centre funds and other benefits to help AP to get back on the track of development.
But when the promises made by Mr Modi were not kept, Chandrababu Naidu whose party shared power with the Centre came out of the alliance and launched a tirade against Mr Modi just before the last elections in 2019. When YSRCP under Jagan made several tall promises in 2019, people gave him a majority of 151 out of 175 seats in the Assembly. When Mr Jagan became the CM, he started the politics of vengeance. Till date, Jagan’s concentration was on taking revenge against Chandrababu Naidu and his party leaders. With several CBI ED cases against him and the cases came to the final judgement stage, Mr Jagan had no option but to become a stooge of Mr Modi.
The utter despair and resentment among the people against Mr Modi and Mr Jagan is very much visible. “We thought Chandrababu Naidu is not putting enough pressure on Modi to get the promises implemented. As a young leader we thought Jagan will do the needful. But Jagan proved to be a total failure. In order to come out of the criminal cases against him by the CBI and ED, he became a yes-man to Modi. He could not get even one promise made by Modi implemented in AP. Moreover, due to his vengeance against Chandrababu Naidu, he is more focussed on reversing the development and progress made under Chandrababu. This is something, which never happened in the Country. When Jagan’s father Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy became CM in united AP, he did not stop even one project or programme launched by Chandrababu Naidu whether it is development of Hyderabad city as an IT Hub, International Airport at Shamshabad, Outer Ring Road or several Irrigation projects or industries. Dr YSR took forward a host of development programmes initiated by Chandrababu Naidu to the next level. Look at Jagan, from the day one he is busy destroying each and every initiative taken by Chandrababu. Jagan even made a mess of the State’s Capital Amaravathi issue. It was a unanimous decision by the AP State Legislative Assembly to have Amaravathi as the State’s Capital and Jagan as leader of the Opposition supported it both inside and outside of the Assembly. PM Modi laid the foundation stone in the presence of the then AP CM Chandrababu, Telangana State CM KCR and lakhs of people present on the occasion. From the very first day when Jagan became the CM, till date, he went back on his commitment and started talking about three Capitals for the state. This issue is still not decided and the AP state is functioning without any Capital. Nothing can be so ridiculous than this,” explained G Venkata Reddy of Anaparti in the erstwhile East Godavari district who was a supporter of Mr Jagan.
From YSR Cuddapah district, the native district of Jagan to Srikakulam in north Andhra to other regions in AP, people want Chandrababu Naidu to become the CM again so that they will have peace of mind. “Andhra people are basically peace-loving. We did not make any issue when we were asked to leave the composite Madras state lock, stock and barrel. We did not made any issue when we were thrown out of Hyderabad. We are hardworking and we are used to start from scratch. But ever since Jagan became the CM, we were left to our fate. YRSCP leaders have become goons and are interfering in our day-to-day lives and putting our very existence at risk. Even if some one wants to start a roadside eatery we need permission from the local YSRCP leader and we have to pay him weekly. Such a situation never existed either in united AP or under Chandrababu’s rule. We want Chandrababu Naidu back as he is the visionary who developed Hyderabad and established it as the IT hub much before the country understood the IT revolution. From the importance of giving encouragement to set up industries to consolidating the IT sector, Chandrababu Naidu knows the emerging social media revolution.”
A host of people who spoke on record says that they are fed up with present YSRCP dispensation under Jagan and they desperately want Babu back in power. “Chandrababu Naidu is a seasoned leader and had the rich experience of leading the united AP state and putting it on the world map. During his tenure as the united AP CM he roped in then US Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush, and had personal relations with IT giants like Microsoft founder Bill Gates and a host of others who invested in Hyderabad by leaps and bounds. We need a visionary like Babu to be the CM again to take forward AP on the development path or else we are doomed,” said P Srinivas who owns a pharmaceutical industry in AP.
There is a common belief among the people in AP that the law and order situation in AP has deteriorated. “Unless there is proper maintenance of law and order no state can progress and there will not be any investment coming to the region. A group of women journalists who visited Andhra Pradesh when Chandrababu was CM were surprised to see that in the middle of the night, girls were moving freely in Vijayawada eating at roadside eateries. Such a situation is not there today. Girls are scared even to attend their colleges or offices. We need Chandrababu as the CM more than anyone else,” said Malathi Reddy from Kurnool.
“When the state was bifurcated and Chandrababu Naidu became CM of AP, we started investing in AP. All our plans of investment went for a toss when Jagan became the CM. We withdrew ourselves from the projects and investments in AP and now we are concentrating in Hyderabad. This is precisely the reason land rates in AP took a downturn while in Telangana they have scaled new heights. In 100 kms radius of Hyderabad, no land is available for less than Rs 5 Crore per acre. AP’s loss is Telangana’s gain,” said Rajendra Prasad, a realtor.
“For the people in Backward Classes, both NT Rama Rao and Chandrababu Naidu did a lot. They have given us reservations in jobs and in politics. Chandrababu Naidu gave importance to the BC leaders and made several of them hold key posts. He made Devender Goud as the Revenue and Home Minister in AP. BCs are given top priority under Chandrababu Naidu’s rule, and even today. Recently he made well-known political leader Gnaneswar Mudiraj President of the TDP Telangana state unit. This has given lot of hopes to BC community leaders in Telangana state. Making Gnaneswar Mudiraj as Telangana TDP President Chandrababu Naidu kindled hopes among the BCs in Telangana state. This alone shows Chandrababu Naidu’s concern towards the BC communities who constitute more than 50% in Telangana State,” says Ravi Yadav.
At a recent public meeting in AP, Chandrababu Naidu declared that he would be fighting his last elections. “This will be my last election. Unless you people support me and my party, AP will have no future,” he said. Lakhs of people on social media came in support of Chandrababu Naidu. “If we fail to elect Chandrababu Naidu and TDP this time, AP will lost forever,” a majority on SM platforms said and wanted Chandrababu Naidu to fight it alone having no alliance with the BJP or any other party.
“We need Chandrababu Naidu and are waiting,” is what is trending now in AP.
VJM Divakar is a senior journalist based in Hyderabad. Kareem Sheikh is a senior journalist and was CEO of several prominent Telugu TV channels in the united AP state