By T S Sudhir
Narendra Modi must be smiling. And why not. With Seemandhra’s bitter political rivals Chandrababu Naidu and Jaganmohan Reddy bending over backwards to be in his good books, Modi has good reason to rejoice at his Modi-fied status with regard to these two politicians who till the other day, wore their minority-ism on their sleeve. Naidu dumped the BJP in 2004, blaming Modi for his debacle and Jagan has always made it a point to highlight his pro-Muslim and pro-Christian credentials. In fact, he did not support P A Sangma for the post of President since he was backed by the BJP.
In this context, Jagan flying into Delhi to meet Modi with his contingent of MPs today is significant. On the face of it, he wanted to congratulate Modi on his victory and also submit a four-page memorandum asking for a good deal for Andhra Pradesh and even Telangana. Jagan obviously wanted to convey that he may have lost the battle of 2014 but as the leader of the opposition in the Andhra Pradesh assembly, he will be a political force to reckon with. By putting forth the demands for Andhra Pradesh, he also wanted to steal the thunder from Naidu and wanted to convey that he too played a part in what the new state gets by way of special incentives from New Delhi.
What was left unsaid is perhaps more significant than the demands put forth for the state. As soon as he came out of prison on bail in September 2013, Jagan had made it a point to praise Modi as a good administrator. Even on the day the results were announced, Jagan said Modi made the difference between victory and defeat.
Today’s visit was essentially to build bridges with the most powerful man in India today. Jagan wants to convey that should the Modi-Naidu jugalbandi go out of tune, the YSR Congress orchestra is available as a replacement. This despite Modi attacking him during the election campaign, asking voters to choose between Swarnandhra and Scamandhra.
Jagan also realises that the Telugu Desam back home has started gunning for him, claiming he will be sent to jail within 45 days. Jagan is chargesheeted in ten different cases and an unfriendly government can easily turn the knife into him, using the ED and the CBI. Which is why he is walking that extra mile – 1529 km from Hyderabad to Delhi, to be precise – to be in Modi’s good books.
On his part, Naidu will try and ensure that Jagan is a forgotten chapter in Andhra Pradesh’s history. He is flying into Delhi on Tuesday and he can be trusted to make a big show of the TDP-BJP bonhomie, a la “Yeh dosti hum nahi chodenge”. Modi too is not likely to rock the boat in Andhra Pradesh too soon, given not just Naidu but even his actor friend Pawan Kalyan is not likely to be too amused if Jagan is able to talk his way into Modi’s charmed circle.