TDP’s re-entry can alter political dynamics in Telangana

Hyderabad: Buoyed by the landslide victory in Andhra Pradesh, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has started drawing plans to get a foothold in Telangana, in a move which has the potential to change the political dynamics in the state.

After staying away from the 2023 Assembly and recent Lok Sabha polls in Telangana, the TDP is looking to make a re-entry into its former stronghold.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP national President N. Chandrababu Naidu’s statement in Hyderabad that the TDP will regain the lost glory in Telangana has triggered a buzz in political circles that the regional party is serious about its revival. The possibility of the BJP-TDP-Jana Sena alliance in Telangana to take advantage of the weakening Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) has created some political heat and left a section of leaders of the ruling Congress worried.

On his first visit to Hyderabad after assuming office as the Chief Minister last week, Naidu not only met his Telangana counterpart A. Revanth Reddy to discuss post-bifurcation issues pending for the last 10 years but also addressed a meeting of TDP leaders and cadres at NTR Trust Bhavan, the TDP headquarters.

The meeting of two BRS MLAs with Naidu further added to the speculations.

T. Prakash Goud and Arekapudi Gandhi called on Naidu to congratulate him on TDP’s victory in Andhra Pradesh. Both are BRS MLAs from constituencies in Greater Hyderabad.

Though the MLAs claimed that it was a courtesy call as they had worked with Naidu for a long time, the development was politically significant as it came soon after he spoke of reviving the TDP in Telangana.

Goud was elected from the Rajendranagar constituency on a TDP ticket in 2009. He was re-elected in 2014 but later joined the TRS (now BRS). In the Assembly elections held in November 2023, he was elected from the constituency on a BRS ticket for a fourth consecutive term. Arekapudi Gandhi was also elected from the Serilingampally constituency in 2014 but later joined the BRS. In the recent elections, he retained the seat as a BRS candidate.

A dozen BRS MLAs have defected to the Congress during the last seven months but these two BRS MLAs are said to be reluctant to join the ruling party and they may be looking to defect to the TDP.

Since the TDP has been without a state President since Kasani Gnaneswar quit the party late last year over its decision not to contest Assembly elections, Naidu’s immediate task will be to appoint a new party chief in the state.

As the YSR Congress Party was virtually wiped out in recent elections in Andhra Pradesh, Naidu is likely to devote more time to reviving the party in Telangana.

Since backward classes constitute about 50 per cent of Telangana’s population, the TDP leadership is said to be keen on once again appointing a BC leader as its Telangana unit chief. Under the new state chief, the TDP is likely to focus on Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections likely to be held next year.

As Jana Sena Party leader and Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Pawan Kalyan recently hinted at the party making a fresh attempt to have a foothold in Telangana, political analysts see a possibility of the BJP-TDP-Jana Sena alliance contesting in the state. Both the BJP and the TDP have traditional strongholds in the GHMC area. Jana Sena is also believed to be strong in certain pockets.

The landslide victory of the TDP-Jana Sena-BJP alliance in Andhra Pradesh has raised the hopes among the cadres of the three parties of a similar attempt in Telangana.

The TDP had stayed away from Assembly elections in November 2023 due to the crisis faced by the party in the neighbouring state, following Naidu’s arrest in the alleged skill development scam.

This was the first time that the TDP did not contest the elections since the early 1980s when the party was floated by N.T. Rama Rao. Lying low since the defeat in the 2018 Assembly elections, it showed signs of revival in 2022 when Naidu addressed a public meeting in Khammam and expressed confidence that the party will regain glory in Telangana.

The TDP had contested in the 2018 elections in Telangana in alliance with the Congress. The party could win just two seats and both the MLAs later defected to the ruling TRS (now BRS).

Meanwhile, the possibility of the TDP’s re-entry into Telangana has started worrying certain sections within the ruling Congress. State unit Working President T. Jayaprakash Reddy has alleged that the BJP is behind the TDP’s attempts. Naidu’s efforts to strengthen the TDP in Telangana were a part of the BJP’s strategy, said Jayaprakash Reddy, popularly known as Jagga Reddy. He believes that the immediate focus of the BJP is to strengthen itself in the GHMC elections and get a foothold by joining hands with the TDP and the Jana Sena, which have considerable followers in Hyderabad.

In the 2020 GHMC elections, the BJP has put up an impressive show to win 49 seats in the 150-member GHMC. In the recent Lok Sabha elections, it improved its performance in Hyderabad and surrounding districts to wrest Malkajgiri and Chevella seats from Congress and BRS, respectively while retaining Secunderabad. Jagga Reddy has asked Congress leadership to take note of the fact that supporters of Naidu and Pawan Kalyan in Telangana became vocal after the alliance victory in Andhra Pradesh.

–IANS

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