He is known to be a man invested in technology, and is widely credited for turning Hyderabad into a technology hub. Even in his party’s largely welfare-oriented manifesto, there were mentions of encouraging artificial intelligence in a largely agrarian state. And in 2024, N Chandrababu Naidu and his Telugu Desam Party (TDP) could have one more try with technology – with the coastal state of Andhra Pradesh potentially emerging as a new manufacturing destination.

With the TDP’s support crucial for the BJP-led NDA to stake claim at forming the next central government – ​​after the latter failed to secure a majority on its own in the Lok Sabha elections – Naidu’s party is believed to be staking a claim for one of its elected MPs to potentially lead the IT Ministry, among others. If that were to come true, BJP leaders expect that a number of centrally subsidized manufacturing projects could land in Andhra Pradesh – significantly changing the country’s tech production map.

Naidu often recalls the time when he secured a meeting with Microsoft founder Bill Gates in the 1990s (when he was CM of undivided Andhra Pradesh). As per him, the meeting was only scheduled to last for 10 minutes, but ended up going on for 45 minutes. During that interaction, he claims to have convinced the company to set up a development center in Hyderabad. Gates listened and the software giant opened a center in the city in 1998, setting the stage for Hyderabad emerging as a key IT sector hub in India.

Today, Hyderabad is home to some of the biggest names in technology, including the likes of Google, IBM, Amazon, Hewlett-Packard, and Texas Instruments, among others. Focus on tech has been a defining theme of Naidu’s and TDP leadership. In 2019, during his previous stint as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, he signed a memorandum of understanding with the Adani Group to build data center parks in and around Visakhapatnam over the next 20 years.

One common concern that some state leaders expressed during the previous BJP-majority government is that a number of new projects, particularly in the electronics sector, went to the state of Gujarat. A senior BJP leader said that with a TDP MP at the helm, Andhra Pradesh could potentially attract investments in the tech manufacturing sector, especially those that would be set up through central government subsidy, like semiconductor assembly plants, laptop and mobile manufacturing facilities. The IT Ministry is the leading department that hands out subsidies for various electronics manufacturing schemes – semiconductors, smartphones, laptops, and servers, among others.

Festive offer

“The TDP would certainly push projects to land up in Andhra Pradesh, which will potentially change the tech manufacturing map of India, which so far has largely been concentrated in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka,” a second leader said. Apple supplier Foxlink, which makes cables for iPhone chargers, already has a base in the state, potentially allowing for more such suppliers to set up shop in Andhra Pradesh.

With Hyderabad no longer the official joint capital of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Naidu’s party – expected to be a key player in the new government’s cabinet – could capitalize the opportunity to develop the capital city of Amravati, along with pulling a number of manufacturing projects along. the Visakhapatnam Chennai Industrial Corridor. “This, in turn, would give the party leverage in the state over its local rival YSRCP as well,” a BJP leader said.

Naidu’s newfound kingmaker status could help resolve the financial constraints that have hit the construction of his dream capital of Andhra Pradesh, Amravati for the designs of which he had roped in British architects Foster and Partners and Baahubali director Rajamouli. However, the project has far from taken off, especially after the World Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank dropped plans to lend funding for the capital project due to political uncertainty in the state.

Amravati has been central to Naidu’s politics and a subject of stiff tension between TDP and opposition Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) who had stopped awarding contracts in Amaravati citing irregularities during his tenure. While Reddy wants Visakhapatnam to be the administrative capital of AP, Naidu has vowed to back Amravati.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) last year observed that land acquired by successive state governments had been lying idle after spending Rs 2,244.94 crore and that the purpose of Land Pooling Scheme (LPS) was not achieved.
TDP’s manifesto for the Andhra Pradesh Assembly election offers a glimpse into the direction that the ministry and the manufacturing industry could possibly take.

The manifesto, while lamenting that Andhra Pradesh had the highest number of unemployed undergraduate numbers, had promised the establishment of special employment zones across the state’s north, south and central regions. There was a promise of also incentivising those medium and small enterprises which generate a large number of jobs.

“We will restore the brand AP which has been destroyed for the past five years, attract foreign investments on a large scale and increase the income of the state by setting up industries, and give a big boost to the creation of job and employment opportunities. Adequate promotion through use of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning to a full extent under the new industrial policy,” TDP’s manifesto said.

It also promised to bring in more automotive companies to the state and set up Rayalaseema, the state’s southern belt, as an automobile hub. Under Naidu, the state had successfully attracted companies like Kia and Isuzu to set up production plants. The TDP government would also develop the Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor as an industrial cluster connecting the key towns of Rayalaseema.