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Rescheduling Judgement Day

By Ashwin Mahesh
November 25, 2003 13:02 IST
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For much of the last four years, you could have followed the news in any of the nation's major publications and arrived at a more or less uniform conclusion about Mr Chandrababu Naidu. The eulogies to the chief minister's high-tech governance have been similar enough that with only minor editing the publications could have easily swapped each other's coverage of the leader from Andhra Pradesh. An assortment of Indian business leaders and multinational institutions have rounded out the praise-parade nicely, and the few missteps that were noted didn't get very much attention. These were merely understandable glitches in a get-it-done government.

Or so we were led to believe. Perhaps you read all those reports and came to the conclusion that the chief minister was incredibly popular, and would be re-elected with no trouble at all. That, it turns out, would have been a mistake.

Shortly after he survived a bomb attack from some of his subjects, Mr Naidu decided that the time was ripe to cash in on the inevitable sympathy that would follow. And so, he's decided it must be election time again in Andhra Pradesh. I've never heard of a politician who couldn't wait for his term to end, and Mr Naidu isn't about to set an unexpected precedent. The only reason to bring the polls forward is that he expects a more favorable verdict from the voters than might be the case if he waited the full term. He wouldn't be the first to try this sleight of political hand, and we cannot find him particularly more egregious than those who have trod this path before.

The one glitch in this scheme is the Election Commission's unwillingness to go along with his play, but with some cleverly restated truths that could possibly be managed. Here's T V R Shenoy who

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Ashwin Mahesh