HYDERABAD: Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president and former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, N. Chandrababu Naidu has taken a step closer to the Bharatiya Janata Party by planning to come up with a document in support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious plan to make India a $5 trillion economy by 2024.
“This is possible and very much achievable. I am sure the Prime Minister will have his goal of taking the country’s GDP to $5trillion in the next five years. I am going to come up with a document explaining how this is achievable and can be achieved,” said Naidu while talking to journalists after a party meeting in Chittoor on Friday evening.
For this, he is expected to unveil a document specifying steps to achieve the GDP growth targets for the country through a series of reforms in each sector. Sources close to him said that the former Chief Minister would announce this document in New Delhi sometime later. Though this appears to be an a document on the economy, his initiative is political in nature as he wants to get close to the ruling BJP by the next elections.
Naidu, who held the Chief Minister’s post of the combined Andhra Pradesh from 1995 to 2004, is known for his “Vision 2020” document for the development of the state during his first stint in 1996-97. This document, which was prepared with the help of McKinsey and Company, a US-based management consultancy, by spending around Rs 20 crore at the time, was taken note of by the A.B. Vajpayee government at the Centre as well as several states.
At the time, he shared his vision document with several global leaders, including then US President Bill Clinton and Microsoft chief Bill Gates, among others. Naidu could attract investments between 1996-97 and 2003-04 by showing this document, which promised measures to improve infrastructure and ease of doing business in Andhra Pradesh.
Naidu still claims credit for developing the IT industry in Hyderabad by creating Cyberabad, a hi-tech city area, and securing an international airport and an outer ring road, though his political detractors in other parties maintain that his role in the whole process was minimal or incidental.
Naidu also claims credit for former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s PURA (providing urban facilities in rural areas) as it was his own idea that found acceptance by the latter. “I am the first one to realise the potential of IT (Information Technology) in the country and the dramatic changes it can bring along,” Naidu told the media at Chittoor.
“I have prepared this 2050 document for Andhra Pradesh, but unfortunately, people have not given me the opportunity to implement it,” Naidu said.
After he became Chief Minister of bifurcated Andhra Pradesh in 2014, Naidu again sharpened his strategies and prepared a Vision 2050 document on the lines of the one two decades ago. He unveiled this new document at an investors’ meeting in Visakhapatnam in December 2014. In this document, Naidu vowed to make the new Andhra Pradesh the number one state in the country on all developmental indices.
The strategy outlined in both the documents is almost similar and simple. He identified eight to a dozen growth sectors and planned to promote them in a systematic manner so that they would yield revenues and job opportunities for youth. At the same time, he proposed simplifying rules and regulations so that investors find it easy to come to Andhra Pradesh.
Sources close to him told this newspaper that this time the former Chief Minister, known for his techno-savvy and pro-business image, is expected to prepare a blueprint for the entire country by identifying some areas of economy where it can grow in double digits. “He is consulting several national and international economists and experts,” said a former TDP minister, who, however, didn’t know any details.
It is to be seen if Naidu’s move to back Prime Minister Modi’s $5 trillion economy dream in the next five years will endear him to the BJP leadership. Already, BJP MP and spokesman G.V.L. Narasimha Rao said that his party would not go for any alliance with the TDP “which had been rejected by people of Andhra in the recent elections”.
Even YSR Congress senior leader and Rajya Sabha member V. Vijaya Sai Reddy, too, ridiculed Naidu for trying to woo the BJP as he could not face Jagan on his own. “Naidu is moving step by step towards BJP once again as he has realised his failure to lead his party in Andhra. But I am sure the BJP national leadership will see through his game-plan,” Reddy said.
Naidu is buoyed with recent developments like the CBI court rejecting Jagan’s petition seeking exemption from personal appearance before it in Hyderabad. Naidu and his entire TDP senior leaders welcomed the verdict and felt that the court upheld the rule of law for all equally. Naidu sees some political space for himself in case the rift between BJP and YSR Congress widens in the coming days.