This is exactly what ‘buying trouble’ means. What Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy would achieve by changing the name of the health university from NTR to YSR is precious nothing. Moreover, he would get a bad name for narrow-minded politics. The chief minister would be handing over a powerful weapon to the beleaguered TDP in its fight for revival.
Political observers are unable to understand the motive or strategy behind the decision. In view of either administration or politics, the decision to change the name of the university 38 years after it was founded is inexplicable. The name is not colonial as Delhi streets are getting new names in place of the former rulers. Kingsway or Rajpath was changed to Kartavya Path and a street was named after Deen Dayal Upadhyay. This can be understood and appreciated albeit with some reservations. But dropping NTR’s name is totally uncalled for.
Jagan Mohan Reddy may be emotional but not so stupid to do something that would jeopardise his political future. He is generally considered astute in his political moves. What is the political gain he could have expected from this act of deliberate insult to a departed soul who is considered as the best chief minister so far. He is perfectly justified in having great respect for his late father. Nobody found fault with him when he organised a number statutes across the undivided Andhra Pradesh and named different schemes after his father since he became the chief minister. But naming the schemes after the names of the present prime minister or chief ministers is not in good taste. Jagananna Pathakam, just like Narendra Modi Stadium or Chandranna Pathakam or KCR kits, is something that is best avoided. Nehru never lent his name to any major irrigation project or IIT. Nor did Kotla Vijayabhaskara Reddy. Decency and humility demand that the incumbent and the living politicians do not indulge in naming the projects or schemes after themselves.
Jagan Mohan Reddy could have launched another health university located at Vizag or Kurnool and named it after Dr. YSR. None would have faulted the decision.
The strategy, if at all, is only in the realm of imagination. It is pitting all communities against Kamma community. This is the first cabinet in Andhra Pradesh that does not have a single minister from that community. The fact that there is no a single Muslim among the 255 BJP MLAs in UP, leave alone in the cabinet is something that comes to mind. There is a definite idea of seclusion of Muslims in BJP’s strategy. Is it a kind of polarisation in Andhra society that YSRCP chief has been attempting at? Is the CM following such a strategy. Otherwise, it is not difficult to find one Kamma MLA who is loyal to him. Gudivada Nani is an example who can praise the incumbent and attack the former chief minister in no uncertain terms. Even Vaisyas and Brahmins, who are numerically less than the Kammas, are given small or big positions. Why not Kammas? Starting with stalling the development works in Amaravati in the name of decentralisation and three capitals, having no minister from Kamma community and replacing NTR’s name with that of chief minister’s father point to a scheme- a method in madness. But is it going to deliver dividends? Jagan Mohan Reddy got good name when he named a new district after NTR. That goodwill was washed out with the latest decision of removing NTR’s name from the important university. While the old generation of Telugu knew that Chandrababu Naidu and his friends insulted NTR when he was alive, Jagan Mohan Reddy and his government are insulting NTR after he is gone. NTR must be turning in his grave.
In fact, Telugus fondly remember only two chief ministers for their rule, welfare schemes and distinct personalities. While one is NTR, the other is YSR. Jagan Mohan Reddy, who could have the legacy of both NTR and YSR with his welfare schemes to endear himself to the people, has spoiled the game himself by doing something blatant and unwise. He has given NTR’s legacy back to Chandrababu Naidu and his son Lokesh who declared on Wednesday that they will restore NTR’s name to the university as soon as they come to power. Whatever Jagan said about his devotion towards NTR and Naidu’s ill-treatment of the late chief minister has not reached the common people. Power is not permanent how so ever powerful the politician is. TDP or some other party could win next elections or the one after the next. Then the name is sure to be changed. It will be an insult to the memory of Jagan’s father. Why should we cause disrespect to the departed souls who strived to serve the people above caste, religion or region?
Can anyone reduce NTR to a community person? Even in his illustrious career in the films, he was known as a supporter of non-kamma directors, actors and technicians. As a chief minister, he treated all equally. He was above the narrow considerations of caste and creed. When one looks at the way he came to power like a typhoon within nine months of founding the party, his win in 1984 Lok Sabha and 1985 Assembly elections despite strong sympathy wave for the Congress in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination, he would be understood as a colossus. In 1994 too, it was NTR’s wave. Waves are not created by a single community however enterprising and wealthy it is. When NTR is insulted, it is not only the people of Kamma community who feel bad but also the people of other communities. Jagan Mohan Reddy has his plate of problems full. There is absolutely no need to buy fresh trouble.
It is a pity that none of the YSRCP MLAs and MLCs could advise the chief minister against this petty-minded move. There are a couple of elders in AP Legislative Council who worked with NTR. None of them mustered courage to stand up and be counted. It speaks volumes about the internal democracy in the ruling party.