By Jamsheed Shaikh Feb. 27, 2019
The Grand Old Party finding love with its 37-year-old rival in Andhra Pradesh – Telugu Desam Party (TDP) – had definitely made BJP, the earlier partner of TDP, feel jealous. But as the election results showed, could the TDP’s dominance be on the decline?
Last November, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Andhra Pradesh chief minister announced a new political alliance, stating they would fight the state assembly elections together. “The chemistry is very good… We like each other. We think there is a lot we can do together,” Gandhi had said in Hyderabad. But their best-laid plans went awry, as voters could not digest this relationship and the alliance faced a debacle in the Telangana assembly elections as they managed to win only 21 seats out of 119.
However, the Grand Old Party finding love with its 37-year-old rival in Andhra Pradesh – Telugu Desam Party (TDP) – had definitely made BJP, the earlier partner of TDP, feel jealous.
After the disappointing showing in the election, senior Congress leaders like Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy, the deputy speaker in the state legislative council, went on to openly criticise the tie-up, saying, “The alliance didn’t fetch the desired result as TRS was successful in showing TDP as an enemy to Telangana where the alliance failed to disprove the allegations.”
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) have been sniping at the TDP ever since it allied with its one-time rival, the Congress. Taking a dig at Naidu, TRS leader KT Rama Rao said former chief minister NT Rama Rao (NTR) had launched TDP to “bury” the Congress and the credit for making it a “junior partner” would go to him. “The abominable and unholy alliance gave a clear choice to the people between the Congress and TRS in the elections,” he claimed.
During his recent Guntur visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also not behind in taking a dig at Naidu. He alleged that the Andhra chief minister had successfully backstabbed NTR for the second time as the basic motto and formation of TDP was to keep Congress at bay. “He keeps reminding me he is senior. There is no debate in this. I have never shown any disrespect to you since you are a senior. You are a senior in changing alliances. A senior biting the back of your own father-in-law. A senior in losing one election after the other, where as I am not,” Modi had said.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) have been sniping at the TDP ever since it allied with its one-time rival, the Congress.
If you carefully look at the political equations in the two Telugu-speaking states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, even though the TDP has extended its support to the Congress, yet the party chief is shying away from getting into a pre-poll alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Maybe some people are just commitment-phobic!
Congress leader Narreddy Tulasi Reddy has even announced that his party would go alone in the coming elections. Meanwhile, TDP head Naidu has also accused the Centre of not even making any attempt to settle the disputes over sharing of properties between AP and Telangana in the last four-and-half years. He alleged that not even a single issue related to 142 institutions listed in Section 10 of the Bifurcation Act was resolved by the Centre. He said the Centre had not granted funds to eight key infrastructure projects listed in Section 93 of the Act.
In this situation, the BJP will have to go alone but it might face the same fate as the Congress when the Grand Old Party was reduced to just three seats in the last elections. It had got 33 out of 42 seats in the 2009 general elections. BJP should also be worried as Congress is going with TDP which won the majority of seats last time (19 seats out of 42).
A pre-poll survey conducted by Republic TV and C-Voter in Andhra Pradesh has predicted a resounding victory for the YSR Congress Party in the coming elections. The survey predicted that out of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra, YSRCP is expected to win 21 seats in the 2019 elections. The survey also predicts KCR-led TRS will win in 16 out of 17 seats in Telangana.
For YSRCP and TRS, the common enemies are TDP and Congress, respectively.
Now when everyone was keeping an eye on these parties, the flamboyant KCR sent his son Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao (KTR) to meet Jagan and they were agreed to work in a KCR-led federal front, an alternative to both BJP and Congress. After this meet, Jagan and KTR made a combined statement that there is a need for an alternative. Political analyst Sanjaya Baru said, “The Telugus rediscovered the power of 42 i.e. 25+17=42 that tells the story.”
There are speculations that the KCR-led federal front could be the B-team for BJP as “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. For YSRCP and TRS, the common enemies are TDP and Congress, respectively.
In the worst situation of a hung parliament, there is a possibility that the TRS and the YSRCP will support a BJP-led NDA government because of a strategic alliance and understanding among these three parties. Though KCR maintains that he is equidistant from both the BJP and the Congress yet he maintains a close relationship with the BJP.
KCR and Modi had appreciated each other in the August 7 meeting in KCR’s own constituency during PM Modi’s maiden visit to Telangana. KCR praised Modi as the “most honest PM in whose regime no single corruption charges were found”. In return, Modi appreciated KCR as the “most committed CM in the country”. KCR had also supported BJP in the President and Vice President elections. The YSRCP also maintains a harmonious relationship with the BJP. Its chief Jagan Mohan Reddy and his party men have never made any direct attack on the BJP but has severely criticised the TDP and Congress alliance.
The general elections promise to be the most interesting electoral exercise in years. The southern states aren’t about to get left behind.