Naidu flirts with BJP, leaves his old friends guessing

Nara Chandrababu Naidu is in the national capital to virtually launch TDP's IPO (read Initial Political Offering). Blame it on negative sentiments, nobody is evincing much interest in what he has to offer, except BJP which is looking beyond electoral gains. What has also not helped his cause is the lukewarm response his recent 'self-respect' bus yatra in Seemandhra generated despite strong 'united Andhra' sentiments. It seemed, the TDP is not gaining even from the slide in Congress's fortune.

Over the weekend, Naidu met leaders across political spectrum Sitaram Yechury, Prakash Karat, Sharad Yadav, A B Bardhan and, lo and behold, Rajnath Singh. The Comrades were curious about his appointment with the BJP president but they didn't ask him and he didn't tell them.

For the past 10 years, he has been taking great pains to convince them that he had committed a blunder by supporting the BJP-led NDA. This time though, Naidu chose to leave his old friends guessing about his dalliance with BJP and instead shared his anxiety about the Congress's attempt to bring on board TRS in Telangana and YSR Congress in Rayalseema and Coastal Andhra regions.

Naidu is staunch believer in 'no-permanent-friend-or-foe-in-politics' saying. Convenor of the United Front in the 1990's, he had moved on to support the NDA regime only to return to the so-called secular brigade a few years later. In 2008, he was promoting the UNPA as the third political alternative. In 2013 again, as he breaks bread with Left leaders, he has been quick to endorse Mamata Banerjee's idea for a federal front.

As Naidu weighs his options in the next elections, he is said to be under pressure from party colleagues, especially those from the corporate sector, to bet on Narendra Modi. The TDP chief himself is said to be convinced about Modi's "wave". Adding to this is the calculation that Modi's OBC credential could help TDP in Telangana where there is sizeable backward castes' population. As for Muslims constituting about 8 to 14 per cent of the population in different regions Naidu is said to be prepared to take the risk.

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