Mr. Naidu was a man in a hurry; he was not just a Chief Minister but also a CEO who wanted to go beyond economic casuistry.
Before Narendra Modi there was N. Chandrababu Naidu. And he was on the right side of history. There was never a reason for the United States to deny him a visa. So Mr. Naidu went, and when he returned, he brought along Bill Gates and Bill Clinton.
Mr. Naidu was a man in a hurry; he was not just a Chief Minister but also a CEO who wanted to go beyond economic casuistry. So he took help from McKinsey; he did not shy away from asking the World Bank what policies to implement and how to do it.
They all approved. Mr. Naidu became the new PowerPoint showman. He knew what would impress the world. When Mr. Clinton left Hyderabad, he had a new driving licence in his pocket — a feat achieved in a flat 15 minutes. He was impressed. Everyone was.
The CNN and the Time magazine sang praises about Mr. Naidu. In Illinois, U.S., they even proclaimed a Naidu Day in his honour. Hyderabad now had a Cyberabad that was becoming the Takshila of Information and Technology. The who’s who of the IT industry had set shop there — from IBM to Microsoft.
Mr. Naidu had made them say ‘Bye-bye’ to Bangalore and ‘Hello’ to Hyderabad. But beyond the feel-good Shangri-La that Mr. Naidu created in Hyderabad, there were concerns in the rest of Andhra Pradesh that he paid no heed to. It was as if he had come to believe he was only Hyderabad’s Chief Minister. The industry loved Mr. Naidu. They, in the words of the English political activist George Monbiot, loved him “because he did what he was told.” So, while Formula 1 would be given subsidy, subsidies on food were slashed.
The farmers suffered. Reeling under debt, they took to consuming pesticide to end their suffering. In 2004, nine years after Mr. Naidu had become the Chief Minister, the people of Andhra Pradesh voted him out of power. They forced him to be the longest serving leader of the Opposition in the State.
Ten years later, history has given Mr. Naidu another chance. It had bid bye-bye to him previously. It says hello to him now. It is for Mr. Naidu to respond to that hello. It is for him to remember that he is the Chief Minister of the new Andhra.