Seated in the sprawling Andhra Pradesh secretariat, in what he calls the dream city Amravati, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu exudes confidence. Often dubbed as the ‘CEO chief minister’, he’s keen to speak on his vision for the state. But he is also a hurt man. Smarting from what he terms a “betrayal”.
“At that time, I thought it was better to align with a national party, the BJP,” Naidu said of the decision made after Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh. On 16 March, he walked out of the National Democratic Alliance for not granting the Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh.
Enough time was given to the Modi-led central government to fulfill this promise, he told BloombergQuint in an interview. “I have made 29 visits in the last four years; sometimes they told me there are UP elections, sometimes Bihar elections.”
His patience ran out when there was no mention of Andhra Pradesh in the last full budget presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 1 February. What followed was a bitter, public fallout, with BJP President Amit Shah writing a nine-page letter to the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, saying the motivation for the split was political.
Shah is in no position to discuss governance issues with him, Naidu said.
"Was Amit Shah in the government? What is his experience that he is talking about governance with me?" - Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh goes to polls along with the next general election in 2019. While his counterparts from Telangana, KC Rao, and West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, have been vocal about looking at political formations to take on the BJP, Naidu is reluctant to reveal his strategy.
“How the situation will change depends on the people’s mood and support.” Though, he does point out his role in 1994 to form the United Front—a clutch of regional parties supported by the Congress.
"Whenever there is a need for alternatives, the Telugu Desam party has played a major role." - Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh
(This article was originally published on BloombergQuint)
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