It’s a confession one wouldn’t have expected from someone like him. But he did. Telugu Desam Party (TDP) national President N. Chandrababu Naidu had openly admitted that he had ignored the party cadre during the last five years.
The price paid? Worst-ever debacle in the recent general elections. His solution? An offer to take a correction course, as a first step ahead of the local body polls that are round the corner.
On the final leg of the three-day constituency-wise review of the party’s Chittoor district unit here on Friday, field level workers in almost all the constituencies openly blamed the State leadership of according undue importance to the official machinery at the cost of grassroots leaders. Though the TDP government brought several projects to the State to benefit the public, this ‘lopsided priority’ did not help the local leaders in taking credit for the same, thus letting the party down at the hustings.
Giving a patient hearing to their grievances, Mr. Naidu admitted to have distanced himself from the ‘party family’ and repented for the same. He, however, attributed the neglect of party affairs to his pre-occupation and enthusiasm to develop the new State on all fronts, realising little that he had not been paying sufficient time for strengthening the organisation. When workers brought to his notice how some constituency and mandal level leaders had either gone off radar or meekly surrendered to threats from ruling party leaders, Mr. Naidu lectured them on leadership skills and the need for courage and commitment to stay with the party workers during crises.
Referring to attacks from ruling party leaders and harassment from official machinery in the form of false cases, Mr. Naidu pointed out that the perpetrators would have to move around in the same streets again in future and advised them to mend their ways. “Yours is a new party. Try to fulfil the aspirations of the voters and not resort to political vendetta. We will bounce back in the next elections and you will meet the same fate then,” he warned, amid a thunderous round of cheers from the workers.
‘State in reverse gear’
On lack of governance, Mr. Naidu admonished the present dispensation for taking the State backwards by 20 years. Calling Amaravati ‘a wonderful capital’ with emerging facilities worth ₹ 2 lakh crore, he flayed the State of undoing all the good things that had accrued to the capital region. He dubbed the exodus of industries from the State a ‘harsh reality’, sand availability ‘a myth’ and the sufferings of construction workers ‘a worsening crisis’.