Chandrababu Naidu Has Outsmarted Jagan Reddy, Once Again
Although Naidu has now decided to divorce the NDA over his demand for special status for Andhra Pradesh, disquiet within the party had started last year itself. At the time, he asked his party to fulfil “mitra dharma”.

New Delhi: By withdrawing support from the NDA government, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu has once again preempted any move by his archrival Jaganmohan Reddy.

Naidu decided to prolong the separation with the BJP and opt for a step-by-step divorce. The Andhra CM first pulled his ministers out of the Union Cabinet, then TDP MPs moved amendments to the Finance Bill in the Lok Sabha and finally, just ahead of YSR Congress' no-confidence motion, Naidu snapped ties with the NDA.

The BJP's dismal performance in the by-elections in Gorakhpur and Phulpur seems to have expedited the matter.

"Our approach from the beginning was calibrated. First, we requested the Centre for assistance then we demanded and finally, we threatened to pull out," said TDP MP Jayadev Galla.

Earlier this year, Jagan in an interview to News18 indicated his willingness to support BJP if special category status is granted to Andhra Pradesh. Sensing realignment of political forces ahead of Lok Sabha elections 2019, Naidu was quick to build a case for parting ways with the BJP.

Jagan in the last four-odd years has used the special category state card to embarrass Naidu. He had said that Naidu had compromised the interests of Andhra by aligning with the BJP for the sake of power. It actually worked for some time and the TDP was on the back foot.

A shrewd politician, Naidu quickly realised the dangers of allowing such a narrative to grow and turned the tables on Jagan by pulling out of Modi Cabinet and finally walking out of NDA.

The TDP had returned to the BJP-led NDA a month before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. It had severed ties with the BJP after its debacle at the hands of Dr. Y S Rajasekhara Reddy-led Congress in 2004 Assembly Elections. Naidu had even called BJP a communal party which had "drowned" him with it.

The popularity of Jaganmohan Reddy and the Modi wave in urban pockets of AP forced Naidu to go for an alliance with the BJP. He had taken a huge risk and it had paid off finally. But the relationship has never been the same post results. Naidu was miffed with Modi over the allocation of portfolios to no special aid to Andhra Pradesh.

Realising that BJP was keeping back-channel talks with the YSRCP open, Naidu decided to pull the plug. Naidu was quietly working on a plan for the past one year. He had used every opportunity to tell the voters that BJP was responsible for their plight and an alliance with them was of no use.