A few days after losing power in the 2004 Assembly elections in undivided Andhra Pradesh, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo N Chandrababu Naidu was in an introspective mood during an informal chat with a group of senior journalists at his residence in Hyderabad.
“What should I make of this verdict? Despite earning a nationwide reputation for developing Hyderabad into a global IT destination, we have lost badly in the city region. Is development not an issue with the people?” he wondered.
There was a sense of genuine disappointment and dismay in his voice. His party was virtually wiped out in the city and the adjoining areas as a resurgent Congress had stormed to power. This was at a time when ‘Brand Hyderabad’ was making waves at a national level for its rapid strides in the software industry and Naidu was the toast of the national media for pursuing bold reforms in the state and introducing a corporate style of functioning in government departments.
Over the next 30 minutes, the candid interaction centred around the narrative of populism versus development — whether a clutch of freebies was all that was needed to fetch votes and whether good development was not necessarily good politics.
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