Andhra Pradesh is now smaller in size, but the challenges before its Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, are much bigger than they were when he ruled the undivided State from 1995 to 2004. Building a new capital near Vijayawada, attracting big-ticket investments to cities dwarfed by Hyderabad, finding funds to fulfil electoral promises such as a loan waiver for farmers and others — these are only the foremost among the many difficulties that confront him. Mr. Naidu, who has staged a remarkable comeback after a decade of being out of power, knows he will need all the help he can get from the government at the Centre. This harsh reality is reflected in the political choices he has made after the general elections. In a departure from practice, the Telugu Desam Party joined the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre. During the previous two terms of the NDA government, the TDP accepted the Speakership of the Lok Sabha, but stayed out of government. The distancing was deliberate: Mr. Naidu was keen to have the BJP as an ally to fight the Congress, but was at the same time wary of the political costs of aligning too closely with a party whose secular credentials were in question. Now, however, such considerations do not seem to matter. Mr. Naidu also inducted two Ministers from the BJP into his Cabinet, thus cementing relations with the national party further. The BJP at the Centre and the TDP in the State do not really need each other’s support, but both parties view the alliance as a long-term investment. When the TDP allied with the BJP before the election, there were many who thought that it had more to lose than gain by teaming up with a party that was seen as having supported the bifurcation of the State. But Mr. Naidu was looking well beyond the election while making his choices. And his political calculations paid off.
Unlike Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who has no stakes beyond his State, Mr. Naidu hopes that at some point his party will be able to rule both States at the same time. The TDP lost heavily in the election in the Telangana region as the whole campaign turned on the bifurcation issue. However, as the leader of a party with a political base in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Mr. Naidu will have to push for amicable settlements to inter-State disputes. Mr. Rao, who has been making belligerent remarks on several of the contentious issues, should realise that there is little to be gained by political posturing. The interests of the people of the two States will be better served if both Chief Ministers approach the difficult issues with a dispassionate mind. Mr. Naidu can take the lead, but Mr. Rao should follow.