BJP is cold to TDP attempt to rejoin alliance

Hyderabad: The Telugu Desam Party’s (TDP) “feelers” to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on rejoining the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) are seemingly being ignored the saffron party. The TDP, led by former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, has been hinting to rekindle the alliance with the BJP, which it broke a few years ago in the run up to the 2019 state and general elections. 

“We have been giving feelers to them, but there is no response from that side as of now. In fact, even Y. Sujana Chaudhry (TDP Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament who defected to the BJP) has been trying his best on that front, but it seems like they are not interested. It could be that the BJP’s local unit does not want an alliance,” said a senior TDP leader AP, who did not want to be quoted. 

He added that since the beginning of 2020, especially since the lockdown began in March last year, Naidu has been supportive of the Centre and has only been censuring YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) President (and AP chief minister) Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy. 

“Our party spokespersons were also asked not to criticize the Centre. There are certain leaders in the BJP who I think want their party to grow on its own, perhaps like in Telangana.  However, a formal decision will only be taken later before the next elections. We have to see how it does,” the senior TDP leader informed. 

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He pointed out that Naidu, earlier during the lockdown, even participated in the “clapping” (claps to thank doctors and healthcare staff who are dealing with the pandemic) activity that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had initiated. Naidu has also more or less only been on the offensive against the AP government, and much lesser on the BJP-led Centre. 

If the TDP goes back to the NDA fold, the political situation will return to what it was during the 2014 general and state polls in AP, given that the BJP and actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena Party (JSP) are in an alliance. The TDP and BJP were formal allies in the 2014 elections, while Pawan Kalyan had supported the parties but did not contest the elections.

However, the TDP split from the NDA before the 2019 general (and state elections in AP) in March 2018 over the issue of special status to Andhra Pradesh. The demand had become a heated issue, which even current AP Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy had taken up as his main agenda then. The Centre had categorically stated earlier that AP cannot be given special status and that it would get a ‘special package’ instead, which eventually led to a fall out between the TDP and BJP.

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Pawan Kalyan also suddenly decided to contest the elections on his own, shocking the TDP. The JSP, which seemingly enjoys support of the Kapu community (which Kalyan belongs to and is believed to comprise 20% of the population), hurt the TDP’s prospects in several seats. 

Hence, in the 2019 general and state elections, the TDP, YSRCP, BJP, JSP and Congress contested the elections separately, which resulted in the YSRCP’s stunning victory. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s party had won 151 out of 175 assembly seats, and 22 out of the 25 Lok Sabha seats. The TDP managed to win just 23 assembly seats and three parliamentary seats, while the JSP won from just one assembly constituency.

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