Does Modi Want AP CM Away From NDA?

Gap between the Prime Minister and AP Chief Minister seems to be widening by the day. Naidu hasn’t been able to meet Modi for a few months now, not even at Tuesday’s swearing-in of the new President. He is surely missing the absence of Venkaiah Naidu from the Union Cabinet, who would have otherwise patched up things.

Guntur: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, a key partner of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, seems to be getting edged out from the ruling dispensation at the Centre.

Close observers of the political scenario in Delhi have pointed out that Naidu has not been able to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the last three months. This became quite glaring at the swearing-in ceremony of new President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday. Rubbing in salt was not Chief Minister’s inability to get an appointment with the PM, but Modi giving audience to Naidu’s rivals.

It is a known fact that YSR Congress MP V Vijayasai Reddy meets Modi frequently. The worst case scenario for Naidu is Lakshmi Parvathi being able to meet the Prime Minister for more than 15 minutes. On top of it, the PM chose not to take time out to meet AP Chief Minister during the swearing-in ceremony, when he could have done so.

This is where Chandrababu Naidu will feel the loss of a centre-stage Venkaiah Naidu, who is in the process of being moved to a sinecure Vice-Presidency. A known well-wisher of Naidu, Venkaiah would have come in handy to remove any irritants, had he continued to be in the Cabinet. His exit has left Chandrababu Naidu with no option but be at the mercy of Modi, or walk out of the alliance gracefully.

Naidu would perhaps have chosen the second option, but has to worry about the pending Cash-for-Vote case, which is unlike those he has faced all these years, including during the rule of late YS Rajasekhar Reddy. Cash-for-Vote is the only case that has shaken Naidu more than anything else in his four-decade-long political career. Many may not know that it was because of this case that he had to leave Hyderabad overnight, reach Vijayawada and stay in a bus for two days, belying his vow to stay in Hyderabad for 10 years and bring TDP back to power in Telangana too.

Modi allying with Jaganmohan Reddy is Chandrababu Naidu nightmare. He worries when Vijayasai Reddy meets Modi or any of the BJP leaders in Delhi. Naidu’s party men go on posing questions to Jaganmohan Reddy to reveal what transpired between him (Jagan) and Modi during their one-to-one meeting. This is because Naidu has no access to the PMO to get such information, though he is part of the NDA.

The AP Chief Minister is confused and concerned over goings on in the PMO without his knowledge. He being kept in dark is what makes him worry further. He has never faced such a situation in the national politics, particularly when being in power in the State. For the first time, he is finding himself lost in national politics.

Given the current situation, Naidu can neither express his resentment over happenings in the PMO, nor dare to walk out of the alliance. Caught between devil and the deep sea, he is hapless; waiting for things to turn on their own, risking the prospect of being pushed further away from NDA by the Modi-Shah combine.

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