The two Naidus may be quite content with their own confused approach, but the public are rarely so during elections.

The Tale of Two Confused Naidus Betraying NTRs legacy of Telugu identity and federalism
news Opinion Monday, June 26, 2017 - 08:24

One believes he only needs to govern the villages that vote for him. That people who don't vote him aren't deserving of the "roads built by him"' and "rations provided by him" and "schemes due to him!"

This gentleman is the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu. 

Make no mistake, the people of Andhra pay his salary to do the CM's job, to run the state government. It is public money, the exchequer of the people of Andhra that funds the roads and rations and schemes that he so glibly appropriates. 

He owes the Andhras his job. He also owes jobs to the Andhras, lakhs of them. And roads and rations, per his manifesto. If anything, he hasn't fulfilled his promises yet while sinking the state deeper in debt with his grandiose plans for yet another centralised capital city. 

The people of Andhra have vested in him a lot of faith, so in fact, he owes them gratitude for handing him charge of CM for 5 years. Lest he forget, 5 years only. 

The people of Andhra, on the other hand, owe him nothing

If he doesn't want to govern the villages that don't vote for him, will he run a coalition government with whoever they voted for? Does he want his governance powers divided and shared? Will he devolve the funds and authority due to those areas to whomsoever won the elections and step aside gracefully? Or better still, decline taxes and revenues from the areas that didn't vote for him?

In issuing brazen threats of targeted non-development and discrimination through non-governance, is he now the CM of the entire state of Andhra or conceding that he is CM only for a fraction of it?

Then there is the other Naidu. His forgetfulness knows no bounds, what with him terming Hindi his mother tongue! Ah, but he has a history of memory loss, having argued righteously for special status for Andhra Pradesh when in opposition, only to acquiesce and martyr the mother state once in power.

While he may now fancy his identity as ‘Hindian’, instead of Indian and Telugu, his choices of constituencies belie his affectation, having been elected time and again from AP and Karnataka. 

Perhaps it is his own total and complete indoctrination into Hindi imperialism at the cost of forsaking his own beautiful Telugu language, his very identity, that has prompted his fallacious, "Hindi is our national language," "Hindi is our identity" comments.

This at a time when Telugu language adoption shows a worrisome declining trend. Though it has one the largest number of speakers in India outside of Hindi, it has a smaller number of language scholars at any level compared to other languages with a only fraction of its speakers, like Tamil or Urdu. Carnatic music and classical dance with their bedrock in Telugu poetry and songs flourish in neighbouring Tamil Nadu while still deemed esoteric in Andhra.

The Union Minister, Venkaiah Naidu must realise that not for everyone this country is Hindi-Hindu-Hindutva-based, and neither he nor his government is chartered to interpret India as such.  They get to govern, not define India. They do not get to dictate what India speaks, eats, wears and watches. Such illiberalism erodes the diversity and the cultural richness of India, attacking the very idea of India.

The 1994 World Telugu Federation in Madras heard an impassioned CM, NT Rama Rao hail the "visishta saampradaya samsevana vidhanam." A uniquely Telugu tradition of binding all Telugus as "Maa Vaari," loosely captured as "our own people," regardless of their religion, caste, or any other differences. That was the emphatic clarion call of the leader of all Telugus, and a federalist statesman to the last.

Contrast that with these two gentlemen, who have the privilege of being arguably the most anti-federal of Southern leaders. 

Chandrababu Naidu's being the only South Indian state government not to have raised any objections to any one of the centralisation measures that infringe on his own state's interest - the GST, beef politics, language policies, central overreach into entrance exams, and the competitive disadvantaging of state students in national educational institutions and central government jobs. And Naidu being only Union Minister from the South to vocally advocate Hindi imposition in non-Hindi states, hence its disproportionate funding and disadvantaging of locals be it from his own native state, Andhra or his erstwhile constituent state, Karnataka.

Andhra now sorely needs politics that will genuinely and unequivocally represent and advocate its interests with the centre and demand it's due as one of the highest potential states in India. Andhra needs tall leaders that stand up for its people and its problems, not sell-outs.

The two Naidus may be quite content with their own confused approach but the public are rarely so, come elections.

Note: Opinions expressed are the author's own.

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