Telugu Desam Party supremo and Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is getting ready for his role in the national politics if his talks and those of his party leaders are to be taken seriously. There is a request from other national leaders for him to stretch his hands to the national level. This demand is getting strength with BJP’s defeat in the recent by-elections to four Lok Sabha and 11 Assembly seats held across the country last fortnight.
TDP MPs declared that Chandrababu Naidu would play a prominent role in the national politics in the days to come. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Benerji has been making requests repeatedly asking Naidu to come to the national platform. The present polarisation is between the Congress and the BJP with the parties aligning either of the groups. As of now, the BJP-led NDA is bigger than the Congress-led UPA.
However, the break-up of the TDP and Shiv Sena from the NDA and the threat of Akali Dal too to pull out from the NDA are some of the indications of a third front. Naidu had the experience of leading national alliances in the past. He played key role in the alternative politics at the Centre heading United Front which had two prime ministers, Deve Gowda and I K Gujral in the past. Leaders like Sharad Pawar are familiar with Chandrababu Naidu’s politics and it would easy for them to accept him as an alternative.
But the Congress is leaving no space for Naidu to build a third front as the Congress is aligning with the regional parties. In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress had aligned with the Swamajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which have contested the by-elections together and defeated the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. Sharad Pawar and Mamata Benerji are comfortable with the Congress and may not distance from the UPA for any reason. In the south, the JD(S) is already with the Congress in Karnataka, while the DMK is set to align with the Congress in Tamil Nadu.
There are other parties like Shiv Sena which cannot align with the Congress while the parties like Akali Dal and all the splinter groups of the Janata Dal are soft towards the Congress. Naidu may have to pull NItish Kumar and Naveen Patnaiak from the NDA, if he wants to carve a place for himself in the national politics. Will he be able to do that is the big question!