117-day padayatra aimed at exposing Congress government’s “inefficiency”

Struggling to capitalise on the wide gap between promise and performance of the Congress government, Telugu Desam president N. Chandrababu Naidu embarked on a 117-day padayatra from Hindupur on Tuesday evening to redeem the situation for his party.

“The Congress leadership has pushed Andhra Pradesh into an abyss after retaining power in the 2009 Assembly elections by its indecision on fundamental issues like Telangana and by staging political charades with the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and the YSR Congress,” Mr. Naidu said in a telephonic interview while travelling from Bengaluru to Hindupur.

‘Not for power’

Out of power for nearly eight-and-a-half years, a duration almost equal to his stay at the helm from 1995 to 2004, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu asserts very strongly that he is not doing the 2,340 km long walk that will conclude on Republic Day next year just for the sake of returning to power.

“I am 62 years old now. I am not taking this risk and pain out of any burning desire to come back as a Chief Minister. I have held that position for nine long years and my sole motive is to create awareness among people about the corruption, inefficiency and maladministration of the Congress government,” he said.

Asked why, in these circumstances, his party had failed to make significant inroads politically by giving a noteworthy account of itself in the by-elections, Mr. Naidu said the Congress had deliberately created confusion and misled people, be it on the separate Telangana issue or on its relations with Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party. “The latter is nothing but a ‘B’ team of the Congress. As for the TRS, the Congress is sure that the party will merge with it, sooner or later”.

The TDP supremo, who has heavily lost ground to the TRS in Telangana and the YSR Congress in Seemandhra region, says AICC leaders are pre-occupied with playing power games and development of Andhra Pradesh is not central to its strategy.

“Why else should they have kept the Telangana pot boiling for three to four years. They should have taken some decision either way, especially after the Justice Srikrishna Committee submitted its recommendations. Their talk of convening a meeting of political parties and arriving at a consensus is ludicrous”, he said.

Before setting off on his walkathon, christened ‘Vastunna .. Meekossam (I will be there ... for you), Mr. Naidu sent letters to national leaders of friendly parties across the national spectrum seeking their support for the padayatra. The TDP president said he was prepared for the consequences of the searing pace he has set for himself and was conscious of the health problems late YSR faced during his 1,600 km long padayatra in 2003. He plans to walk for 8 to 9 hours in two spells each day and rest for the night in a well-furnished bus that will accompany him.

Real test

He will face the real test when his road show enters Telangana about three weeks from now.