Chandrababu Naidu rules himself out of PM race, is this eyewash or strategic move by AP CM?
Hyderabad, May 30: What does 2019 hold for us? It's anybody's guess, but politically all eyes are fixed on the big General elections scheduled in April/May next year in the country.
During the Karnataka Assembly elections recently, Congress president Rahul Gandhi admitted that he was ready to be the next Prime Minister of the country if the grand old party gets the mandate. But there are at least a dozen PM aspirants from various political parties right now.
From incumbent PM Narendra Modi, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)) patriarch HD Deve Gowda to Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati, the big post could be bagged by any of these political stalwarts depending on how the election results unfold.
Hectic political parleys are underway in the country ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, something which we saw in the aftermath of the Karnataka election results where almost all the top opposition parties' leaders shared the dais in a show of unity during the swearing-in ceremony of CM HD Kumaraswamy.
While on the one hand, political observers have already started calling the next General elections as a contest between PM Modi and the rest, there is also a narrative which clearly suggests that all the non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the non-Congress parties would come together to grab power at the Centre in 2019.
But will any political alliance be possible against the BJP minus the Congress? This aspect is also something that is not very clear, especially after the grand old party joined hands with the JD(S) to form the government in Karnataka. The Congress-JD(S) alliance has the blessings of almost all the other opposition parties (especially the regional ones).
One another political heavyweight who is hogging the limelight ahead of the 2019 polls is Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu. Naidu, who a few months ago left the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre over the issue of special category status for his state, has quickly developed good rapport with all the opposition parties.
The Andhra Pradesh CM is one of the main architects behind the coming together of the Opposition against the Modi government in the recent times. However, Naidu, known for his shrewd and strategic political moves, has always tried to stay away from portraying himself as a prospective PM candidate.
He has mostly focussed all his energies on stressing the fact that all his political moves are for the greater good of his home state but simultaneously batting for the BJP's (his former friend) defeat in 2019.
"I have never craved for power in Delhi. My aim has always been our state and its interests. One thing is for sure, the BJP will not come to power at the Centre in 2019. In Andhra Pradesh, the BJP will not get even a single seat," said the president of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) on the last day of the party's three-day Mahanadu conclave on Tuesday.
"The TDP always reviews political situation of the country. In that context we have analysed that due to injustice meted out to Andhra Pradesh by the BJP government and their performance at the Centre, there is no chance that the BJP is coming to power again. All the regional parties are going to get stronger now," Naidu added.
A few days the Andhra Pradesh CM stated that the TDP will play a key role at the Centre in 2019, but again had kept himself out from claiming the PM's post.
Interestingly, one of his ministers recently stated that the TDP won't accept Rahul as the PM if the Opposition comes to power at the Centre. Politically, the TDP is not enjoying good times in its own home turf over allegations of misgovernance, corruption and inability to provide economic stability to the state after Telangana was carved out from Andhra Pradesh in 2014.
There are also reports that the TDP's main rival in the state, the YSR Congress Party, is cosying up to the BJP. The other main opponent of the TDP in Andhra Pradesh is the Congress and Naidu realises it well that he can't be seen too pally with the grand old party at any national platform to save his interests in the state.
The Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh are also scheduled in April/May 2019. Thus Naidu needs to focus more on his home turf than coming across as someone who is eyeing the top job in the country. So till then, Naidu shares no ambition to be the next PM of the country?