The sudden shower of affection and concern towards Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from the Telugu Desam Party in the recent past has surprised many.
A delegation of TDP leaders, led by Andhra Pradesh social welfare minister Nakka Anand Babu called on President of India Ram Nath Kovind in New Delhi on Monday to represent on the attempts to dilute the provisions of SC/ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act, as per the suggestions of the Supreme Court.
The delegation urged the Presidnet to see that the Constitutional rights provided to SCs and STs under the Act shall not be infringed because of the orders of the Supreme Court and see that the NDA government promulgates an ordinance to restore the rights of SCs and STs.
Obviously, there is something more to the TDP’s move to take up the cause of SC/STs than what meets the eye.
Analysts say TDP president and chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu is wary of the changing caste equations in the state following the reports of a possible opposition unity against the TDP in the next elections.
Reports suggested to Naidu that there would be a major shift of the Kapu votes from the TDP towards the YSR Congress party and Jana Sena Party in 2019.
If there is any understanding between the two opposition parties with the Bharatiya Janata Party also pitching in, there might even be a total shift of Kapu votes.
Secondly, there might also be a split in the votes of other major communities like Kshatriyas. So, Naidu has to depend mostly on OBC votes and SC/ST votes. That is precisely why he is showing special interest in these communities.
In the coming days, one can expect a string of welfare schemes from Naidu to woo the weaker sections.
At the same time, Naidu is also banking on the minority votes.
Reports say the TDP has improved its credibility among the minorities to a considerable extent after he came out of the BJP fold.
But it remains to be seen how far these sections would replace the Kapu and Raju votes.