From the beginning of his political career, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) Chief N. Chandra Babu Naidu has been something of a maverick.
The man who claimed the hearts of his followers was also known for bringing about the downfall of his predecessor and father-in-law N. T. Rama Rao (NTR) who reportedly compared him to Aurangazeb, the Mughal emperor, for overthrowing NTR from his position of power.
Between 1994 and 2004, he served as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. Naidu is famously known as the youngest assembly member as well as the youngest minister who achieved this position at the age of 28.
With his slogan, “Bye-Bye Bangalore, Hello Hyderabad,” Naidu successfully bagged the wallets of worldwide IT majors like Microsoft and convinced them to set up their facilities in the AP capital. He is also responsible for bringing in other IT giants Dell, IBM, Deloitte and Oracle into Hyderabad.
Branded the ‘IT Indian of the Millenium’ for these successes, Naidu is on a mission again.
Naidu has tasked himself with publicizing the failings of the ruling Congress party in India by embarking on a 117-day Padayatra, which began in Hindupur (Anantapur District) on Oct 2nd. The plan is to walk 1,243 miles in 117 days in much the same fashion as Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March. However, this time there is a lot more fanfare.
The media reports that the Padayatra will cover 13 out of 23 districts of the state of Andhra Pradesh including Telangana, Rayalaseema, coastal Andhra and North Andhra.
'Vastunna Mee Kosam,' which means “I am coming for you,” aims to revive the flagging electoral fortunes of his party and give it a winning edge in the next elections.
The Hindu quotes Naidu at the launch of the Padayatra: “I am ready for any sacrifices and am not worried about my health or life. If I am not there with you in your hour of need, your support to TDP all these years will be meaningless.”
“I have taken up the exercise against all advice just for the sake of people, to go and learn about their problems, to infuse confidence among them to fight against the current misrule,” said Naidu.
However, according to the Telangana Rashtra Samiti Assembly floor leader Etala Rajender the TDP Chief’s ‘Padayatra’ is driven by his hunger for power. He accused Naidu of using this event to bring up the same issues that he had neglected while he was in power. “There is achange in his perspective. Now he is talking about ‘gram swaraj’. People won’t believe him,” he said.
Naidu's padayatra is projected to be the longest ever to be embarked upon by any politician.
The TDP president is reportedly nursing blisters on his feet and an eye infection due to the flower petals showered on him by his party supporters.