Earlier this year, when Andhra Pradesh chief minister and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu walked out of the NDA coalition at the Centre, he set in motion the first of a series of actions which reflect the heightened state of paranoia which appears to dog him. For one thing, he has been far from successful in trying to make his 'righteous indignation' seem authentic. When he tried to take the high moral ground on Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh, there were not many takers. He had no answer when he was asked why he welcomed Special Package earlier and preferred it to Special Category Status. Ask him what he was doing on SCS to AP when the TDP was in the NDA government and you hit another dead-end.
Chandrababu's frustration, as also his political desperation has been growing by the day in recent months. He asked the people of Andhra Pradesh, at one public meeting, to protect him from any harassment from the Central government. If this is his level of paranoia, what help can the man in the street expect from the government?
When the offices and houses of some of his close associates and Rajya Sabha TDP MPs like C.M. Ramesh, Sujana Chowdary and former Congress MLA (who crossed from TDP) Revanth Reddy were raided, Chandrababu screamed conspiracy. He accused the Union government of using Central agencies like the Income Tax department, ED and CBI to hound political adversaries. Neither he nor C.M. Ramesh and the others had any valid response to the question—why should anyone fear the IT or ED when they have nothing to hide?
At a recent media conclave, Chandrababu Naidu had a similar response in a rather convoluted reply to the same question. When a senior journalist questioned him on why any leader had to fear the income tax department or the ED for that matter, an indignant Chandrababu shot back asking whether all the BJP MPs had descended from heaven. He asked whether it was only the TDP MPs and Opposition MPs who were corrupt. What Chandrababu Naidu seems to have missed in his knee-jerk reaction is a tacit admission of guilt in posing such a question. In simple terms, paraphrasing his question would suggest no party is free from corruption. If this is the scenario, what explanation does he have against IT raids being conducted on offices and residences of his close associates? Assuming for a moment that they are being singled out, why should they fear IT/ED unless they are corrupt?
The TDP supremo has been living in a reality-proof bubble of his own making for a long time and no one seems to have the temerity in his own party, of disabusing him of perceptions of grandeur that he has about himself. Chandrababu Naidu tends to whisk himself up into a higher sphere in his own imagination and lives in a parallel universe created by his favourite media outlets, it appears. Reality comes to bite him every now and then and at such moments, he is jolted into making statements like fear of being hounded by Central agencies and seeking protection from the people should something of this kind happen to him. Another instance of his growing insecurity can be seen from the fact that the TDP supremo repeatedly harps on his seniority in public life for which he has become a butt of all jokes not only in his state but across the nation.
What is it that Chandrababu is paranoid about? Is it that there might be some truth in widespread allegations of scams surrounding Amaravati, Polavaram and other irrigation projects, which could be unearthed in any probe? Is it the fear of the Damocles sword in the form of Notes for Votes case which is hanging on his head? Is it the likelihood of him getting implicated in cases which the ED/I-T might file against prominent TDP MPs whose offices and properties had been raided? What fear is it which grips Chandrababu Naidu for him to speak in this agitated and frustrated tone which we often see today?