After the dusty electoral battle field of Telangana, Telugu rivals, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and his Andhra Pradesh counterpart N Chandrababu Naidu, have renewed their rivalry at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, a town the Swiss Alps, but in absentia.
The two states have scaled up their presence at the annual event. Andhra Pradesh lounge occupies the space earlier used for the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII)’s ‘Indian Adda’, while the Telangana government has set up its lounge across the road. Rao's Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) won in the December Assembly polls in the state, defeating an alliance comprising the Congress and Naidu's Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
However, the upcoming Lok Sabha election and the Andhra Pradesh Assembly polls have forced Naidu, a regular at Davos, and K T Rama Rao, Rao’s son and Telangana IT and industries minister, to skip the event.
K T Rama Rao, who attended the WEF last year and has been elevated as working president of the TRS after the party’s win in the state polls, opted to stay back to focus on preparedness for the Lok Sabha battle. Telangana has sent a strong delegation led by its senior ministers.
Naidu, on the other hand, has dispatched his son and state IT Minister Nara Lokesh and Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu to Davos. Lokesh, 35, a Stanford Business School graduate, would speak in 12 sessions, apart from participating in 30 high-level bilateral meetings, government sources said. “Stronger the pitch of various states, the better for India as a country,” K T Rama Rao replied in a tweet on the rivalry between the Telangana and the Andhra Pradesh governments at Davos.
The two states plan to showcase their improved ‘ease of doing business rankings'.
According to TDP sources, Naidu did not wish to travel overseas since the Andhra Pradesh Assembly election and the Lok Sabha polls will be held simultaneously. He also wanted to be present at the Opposition rally that West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee held in Kolkata on Saturday. K T Rama Rao is his party’s key strategist.
Andhra Pradesh has 25 Lok Sabha seats, while Telangana has 17. The TDP and TRS hope to maximise their wins to be influential players in case of a coalition government takes shape at the Centre post-2019 battle.
In the run-up to the global event, Naidu accused the Narendra Modi government of putting obstacles in Andhra Pradesh’s efforts at getting investments. The TDP alleged the Centre restricted the number of days the Andhra government entourage could spend in Davos. “Who gave you (Centre) the right? Is it the spirit of cooperative federalism?” he asked.