Chandrababu Naidu, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, has completed 40 years in politics. On Tuesday, in an exclusive interview to ABN MD Vemuri Radhakrishna, he opened up on several issues including politics and how he had once dreamt of being a civil servant.
40 years ago, in 1978, Naidu became an MLA on a Congress Party ticket. He soon became youngest minister in the Cabinet at the age of 28.
The 66-year-old spoke about how he had "nurtured politics" from his university days. He said he used to visit villages in his constituency to understand the problems of the people.
He also spoke about YS Rajasekar Reddy, his political rival. Incidentally, they both began political careers almost at the same time in Congress. And they ended up being the leaders of Opposition during the other’s tenure as chief minister.
"There was no rival [initially], we were on good terms as colleagues… worked together. Later on, I moved to Telugu Desam and he was still in Congress. He had to fight since because I was in Telugu Desam, and I had to fight because he is in Congress. But mine has always been a political fight," Naidu said.
But the camaraderie with YSR turned bitter soon. Naidu claimed that though he had “behaved well”, he accused YSR of being rude and ridiculing him in the Assembly.
Radhakrishna also asked him about a land related tussle between the two leaders from the late 1990’s. Regarded as a time which saw the YSR-Naidu rivalry at its peak, YSR had apparently constructed a house on government land. He tried to sell it off later, but Naidu apparently did not allow him to do so, and asked him instead to pay the market price of the land.
"Even the court directed to solve the problem with market price. But he wanted it for free of cost, I asked him to pay market value, then conflict began there," Naidu said.
Radhakrishna spoke to Naidu about bifurcation politics and his history with Telangana Chief Minister Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao (KCR). Like YSR, KCR also started out alongside Naidu in Congress, and was Naidu’s colleague in TDP as well, under the leadership of NT Rama Rao. He quit TDP in 2001 and formed the Telangana Rashtra Samithi.
Radhakrishna asked Naidu if he regretted not giving KCR a cabinet position in 1999 in TDP, and preventing the bifurcation of the state, Naidu simply said "Sometimes in history, there are be calculative mistakes. We can’t rewrite history, but we can review it." He added, "You can write things a certain way if they are in our hands. If not, we cannot write them, and they are beyond our imagination."
Naidu has recently been making headlines amidst talk about pulling out of the alliance with the BJP, following the meager fund allocations and unkept bifurcation promises after the Union Budget.