The Anantapur MP had threatened not to vote in the trust vote against the Modi government, even though his party was the one that had piloted it in Parliament.

JC Diwakar Reddys threat ahead of trust vote made cracks in TDP more visible
news Politics Saturday, July 21, 2018 - 13:02

Much to the relief of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s camp, the controversy surrounding whether TDP MP JC Diwakar Reddy would attend the Parliament session or not, ended in a rather tame way. But this just highlights the cracks within the TDP’s armour even as the 2019 General Elections are fast approaching.

Diwakar’s declaration that he wouldn’t attend the session came as a surprise to many as it was the TDP that had piloted the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. And it was obvious that the party members would have to fall in line with its whip.

It’s naive for anyone to assume that Diwakar, who is from Anantapur, was unaware of the nuances associated with the whip, given his previous ‘avatar’ as a seasoned regional satrap of the Congress in the faction-ridden Rayalaseema region. Then, knowing all this, why did he initially seem as though he would go against the whip?

There may be the reasons overtly seen and heard, but there is more to this than meets the eye.

Clash of culture

This episode once again threw the spotlight on the culture clash the TDP is embroiled in with the wave of Congress and YSR Congress turncoats who joined the party before the 2014 elections.

It’s common in the Congress to nurture and nourish intra-party groups that can hold the party high command to ransom if they want things to go in their favour. In fact, Naidu himself graduated from that school of thought before he left the Congress to embrace his father-in-law’s party. As old habits die hard, Diwakar Reddy too employed the same trick to get his boss Naidu to meet his demands.

Turf wars

Diwakar was the uncrowned king in his native district of Anantapur for over a decade during the Congress regime, until its leader. YS Rajasekhar Reddy, began his second innings as Chief Minister in 2009. During that period, he was accused of having masterminded the murder of Paritala Ravindra, the husband of Women and Child Welfare Minister Paritala Sunitha. However, the post-bifurcation circumstances forced Diwakar into the TDP, to play the second fiddle to his one-time rivals within that party.

Notwithstanding the challenges from his intra-party rival groups, Diwakar seems bent upon rebuilding his own empire in the district with his own men in the political hierarchy, especially those from his family.

As per the deal he struck with Naidu at the time of his defection, Diwakar managed to secure the Anantapur Lok Sabha seat for himself, the Tadipatri Assembly segment for his brother Prabhakar Reddy and an MLC berth for his son-in-law Deepak Reddy.

Son rise

Now, Diwakar Reddy has one more item pending on his wish list: To see his son, Pawan Kumar Reddy, become his successor in Parliament. For this, he first needs to replace his rivals – Prabhakar Chowdary in Anantapur and Jithendra Gowda in Guntakal Assembly segments, both of which fall under the Anantapur Lok Sabha seat – with his own followers so as to smoothen the victory of his son in the coming elections. Therefore, he aims to strike when the iron is hot.

Naidu might have made instant gains with the Congress brand of leaders, who helped him to come to power in 2014. But the entry of Congress men into his party allegedly spoiled the ecosystem, triggering turf wars between the old guards and turncoats.

This sort of group rivalry did cost the TDP heavily in Naidu’s Assembly segment of Chandragiri in Chittoor district where Galla Aruna Kumari, the mother Guntur MP Jayadev Galla, and a Congress defector, lost the election to YSRCP. Aruna, while serving as a minister in the Congress government, was accused of harassing the TDP cadre in Chandragiri by instigating the police and that the TDP workers avenged her by ensuring her defeat.

‘Mega politics’

In Visakhapatnam, HRD minister, Ganta Srinivasa Rao, was recently in the news as there were many rumours of his possible defection to Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena party. His mentor, mega star Chiranjeevi, who founded the Praja Rajyam Party, is reportedly pressurising Srinivasa to pay him back by backing his brother Pawan in the run-up to the elections.

Srinivasa became the Minister for Major Industries thanks to a deal Chiranjeevi struck with the then Congress leaders before he merged his party with the latter. However, Srinivasa defected to the TDP before the 2014 elections. His entry was vehemently opposed by Roads and Buildings minister Ayyanna Patrudu, a party old-timer.

In Srikakulam district, in Uttarandhra region, too the TDP is seeing a faction war between Kala K. Venkata Rao, a defector from the PRP, who is now the Minister for Power, and K Achchennaidu, the Minister for Marketing and Warehousing. The family of Achchennaidu, who is the younger brother of Yerrannaidu, has been with the TDP since NTR’s days.

And insiders say they have reason to worry for what appears to be like a clash of mammoth proportions may have a devastating impact on Naidu’s strenuous efforts for a comeback in the coming elections by taking on the resurgent leader of Opposition YS Jaganmohan Reddy.

Read: TDP MPs jump into well during no-confidence debate, BJP whip pushes back