Amaravati: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appears to be looking to revive its ties with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) as part of its strategy to bolster its prospects in Telangana and check K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who is going aggressive in forging anti-BJP alliance at national level.
The developments of the last few days indicate that TDP will soon return to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
While this will herald a political realignment in Andhra Pradesh ahead of the 2024 elections, the immediate impact is likely to be on Telangana polls.
With the BJP focusing on Telugu states, especially Telangana, where it wants to check KCR, as the Chief Minister is popularly known, the saffron party needs an alliance with the TDP.
Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh are due to be held only in 2024 along with the Lok Sabha polls but the immediate challenge before the saffron party is next year’s elections in Telangana.
With KCR going aggressive to play a key role in national politics, the BJP appears to have stepped up its efforts to checkmate him on his home turf.
Series of visits by top BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J. P. Nadda to Telangana, the conduct of the party’s national executive meeting in Hyderabad and the aggressive strategy being adopted by the BJP’s Telangana leadership all point to the saffron party’s game plan to counter KCR.
It is in this context that the recent developments have assumed significance. Though TDP is no longer a major political force in Telangana, the party is still believed to have good support among ‘settlers’ as the people who belong to Andhra and Rayalaseema regions and settled in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana are referred to.
As part of its ‘Mission 2023’, the BJP is focusing on about 32 Assembly constituencies (out of total 119) where settlers are believed to be a deciding factor.
Political analysts are of the view that TDP along with actor Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena Party (JSP) can help BJP win a majority of these seats. Most of these constituencies are located in and around Hyderabad.
JSP is already an ally of BJP and Pawan Kalyan has been underlining the need to forge a grand alliance in Andhra Pradesh to defeat Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSR Congress Party (YSRCP).
After the recent exit of Nitish Kumar from NDA, the BJP is also in need of pre-poll alliances. The saffron party may not be in a hurry for an alliance in Andhra Pradesh as YSRCP has been extending vital support in Parliament and outside whenever required.
However, the BJP will be keen to have some understanding with TDP ahead of Telangana polls.
As the longest serving chief minister in united Andhra Pradesh (1995-2004), Chandrababu Naidu enjoys good support among the electorate, especially in Hyderabad and surroundings.
After a gap of more than four years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and TDP president Chandrababu Naidu met during the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav National Committee meeting held in New Delhi on August 6. After the meeting, Modi and Naidu are learnt to have held discussions for a while.
This was their first meeting after the TDP snapped ties with the NDA in 2018.
The same day Naidu’s son and TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh reportedly met Amit Shah in the national capital.
On August 21, Shah during his day-long visit to Telangana met media baron Ramoji Rao, considered close to the TDP.
The BJP leader also met popular actor Junior NTR, grandson of TDP founder and former Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao, who was popularly known as NTR. They were understood to have discussed politics. The saffron party is reportedly keen to woo the young actor to campaign for it in coming elections in both the Telugu states.
Since the BJP feels that it has a real chance of coming to power in Telangana, the party will be looking to use the TDP for transfer of its votes in Telangana. In Andhra Pradesh, the saffron party may be ready to play second fiddle to TDP.
Naidu had snapped ties with them before the 2019 elections and joined with the Congress party. In Telangana, the TDP contested the 2018 Assembly elections in alliance with Congress but was wiped out.
In the 2019 elections in Andhra Pradesh, Naidu-led TDP lost power to YSR Congress Party (YSRCP). Since then, the TDP has been looking to warm up to BJP.
Pawan Kalyan, who had rejoined hands with BJP, is in favour of reviving TDP-BJP-JSP alliance. The actor had launched Jana Sena before 2014 elections but his party did not contest the polls. He supported TDP-BJP combine and campaigned for its candidates in the company of Narendra Modi and Chandrababu Naidu.
However, Pawan later distanced from BJP, targeting it for going back on its promise to confer special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
Jana Sena contested the 2019 elections in alliance with the CPI, CPI (M) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). However, the alliance had to bite the dust. The actor failed to win either of the two seats he had contested. Jana Sena could win one seat in the 175-member Assembly. It was polled 6.78 per cent and lost deposits in as many as 120 Assembly seats. It drew a blank in the Lok Sabha elections.
However, Jana Sena fared better than BJP, which failed to retain four Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats which it had won in 2014. The saffron party’s vote share was less than one per cent.
YSRCP wrested power from TDP by bagging 151 seats. The TDP was a distant second with 23 seats.
(Except for the headline, this story has not beed edited by Siasat staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)