It is generally believed that Chandrababu Naidu’s main rival is YSRCP chief Jaganmohan Reddy. However, in the public life he is the target of another key rival. This rival is worrying him with his policies and actions. He is none other than Naidu’s one-time aide and the present chief minister of Telangana, KCR. The TRS chief might have visited Amaravati but Chandrababu is still feeling KCR heat. In the election year, this heat is impacting the politics. Naidu on one side is facing the Centre which is refusing to cooperate, on the other the challenge from YSRCP is growing and from the third side Jana Sena, which was an ally till recently, has turned tables. From the fourth side, KCR is also using his weapons. Thus Naidu is under fire from all sides.
In the initial days, TDP has thought that KCR can’t run the administration and he will soon give up. However, with his strategy, he secured majority and reached an unassailable position. He weakened every party. With his shrewd moves, he almost finished TDP’s presence. He also managed to woo all MLAs into TRS. He shook the Congress party. It was the result of all his political tactics. On the other hand, he won every by-election to gain people’s confidence. In fact, all these issues have no bearing on TDP in Andhra Pradesh. However, TDP faced a situation where it was inevitable for it to launch welfare schemes like KCR. Kalyana Lakshmi, Shadi Mubarak and Pension all are schemes launched in competition. For Telangana, which is financially sound, these schemes are not a huge burden. It is borrowing money to implement new schemes. However, for AP, which is facing tough situation due to meager revenues, implementing these schemes is huge burden. Moreover, KCR is implementing caste specific schemes. There are more artisans among BCs. TDP had always stood by BCs. The pressure is mounting in AP for similar schemes. KCR taking some steps to increase revenues and further strengthen economy. To a larger extent Chandrababu’s schemes are for temporary benefits. There is already public criticism of Chandranna schemes. KCR is deriving the publicity from the schemes but Chandrababu is not getting the same. The comparison between two states is getting tough.
Kaleshwaram is being described as China’s Trigarjes. This major irrigation project will be a key campaign issue in the coming elections. In fact, Andhra Pradesh needs construction of Polavaram project. This was also given national status. If money is released, it is likely to be completed before 2019. Compared to this, construction of Kaleshwaram is complicated. Preserving water resources underground is the amazing aspect. Experts say if completed this will turn Telangana into a state with abundant water. This will alleviate farmers’ problems for water. Polavaram is being built above the ground. This can be completed quite easily. Telangana government is completing Kaleshwaram without support from the Centre. On the other hand the chances of completion of Polavarm don’t look bright. Since the issue relates to half of the state’s population, this could turn into a major problem for Chandrababu in 2019 elections. Telangana government has also completed farmers’ loan waiver. It started distribution of Rs.8,000 as investment support every year for each acre. On the other side in AP, loan waiver is moving at snail’s pace. A situation is arising where farmers may ask Chandrababu about the investment support. Farmers in AP will compare their situation with their counterparts in Telangana. If farmers take to streets over not getting government support, this will pose problems to TDP. YSRCP and Jana Sena will be looking to flare up such issues. In the media in which Chandrababu has good faith, there are full page advertisements of KCR while the TV channels continue to telecast the ads. All this is a headache for Chandrababu.
TDP has a feeling that in the past it received setback due to tough handling of the employees. That’s why it showered all sops on them in 2014 elections. After the elections, the retirement age was increased to 60. In terms of wages, it tried to be ahead of Telangana. Employees played a key role in achieving Telangana state. Employees staged protest under the banner of Samaikyandhra but it did not yield results. The state was divided. The new state was formed with loans but despite this employees got all at par with their counterparts in Telangana. Still, the kind of positive response which KCR got among employees eluded Chandrababu. Since KCR was active in the movement from the beginning, the employees’ associations threw their weight behind him. They washed his pictures with milk. Chandrababu did not get that honour. With Babu’s sops, the annual wages bill of the employees increased to Rs.80,000 crore. Recently, KCR once again appointed pay revision commission. This may further add burden on Andhra Pradesh. The state’s economy is in no position to withstand this. Employees’ associations are asking the government why it can’t give them wages at par with the employees in Telangana. Chandrababu is caught between devil and deep sea. That’s why TDP sources say his real rival is KCR.