Will TDP join hands with Congress ?

Hyderabad, July 8: Telugu Desam Party was floated by NTR with the very purpose to challenge the monopoly of Congress party in the then undivided Andhra Pradesh. With the slogan of Telugu self-respect, the actor politician succeeded in ending the one party rule. That was in early 1980s and since then much water has flowed under the bridge.

In successive elections over last three decades, Congress had always been the number one enemy for TDP. However, the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and the subsequent political developments in both the Telugu states have forced TDP to reconsider its traditional stand.

In 2014, TDP had new rivals in both the states – YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in Telangana. YSRCP emerged as the new number one enemy for TDP in Andhra Pradesh as Congress was wiped out due to the people’s anger in that state over the party’s role in bifurcation. Congress was a loser in Telangana too as people gave mandate to TRS.

TDP, which had joined hands with BJP in 2014 elections and became a part of BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, suddenly found a political shift. When the BJP appeared to be extending hand of friendship to Chandrababu Naidu’s new enemy number one YSRCP, he decided to pull out of NDA, citing its failure to accord special category status to the state.

Chandrababu found another threat in the form of Pawan Kalyan. This was because the Jana Sena chief had started targeting him and the TDP instead of BJP over the issue of special status. The TDP chief views this as a BJP conspiracy which also involves Jaganmohan Reddy and Pawan Kalyan.

Though Congress party is yet to regain the lost ground in Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu dropped enough hints that it is no longer the enemy number one for him. At the swearing in ceremony of Karnataka chief minister, he shared dais with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and many opposition leaders. This was perhaps the first time in decades that TDP chief shook hands with his Congress counterpart and it has not gone unnoticed by the political pundits.

The development has once again underlined that there are no friends or foes in politics. Till yesterday, BJP was Chandrababu’s friend but today it has become his main enemy. Today, Chandrababu is seen warming up to Congress, which was earlier his enemy number one.

While TDP may not have any truck with Congress  in Andhra Pradesh, electrical understanding between them appears on cards in Telangana, where their common enemy is TRS. Over the last four years, both the parties have lost more than 24 MLAs to the TRS.

Political observers say TDP and Congress may join hands for ‘friendly’ contests, if not a formal poll tie-up. Both the parties realize the need to unitedly take on the ruling party.

Chandrababu reportedly favours an understanding with Congress to prevent division of anti-establishment votes. TDP’s Telangana unit has identified 35 Assembly constituencies across the state where the party has considerable strength. TDP plans to ask Congress to at leave least 20 of these seats or field ‘weak’ candidates.

TDP had won 15 seats in 119-member Telangana Assembly in 2014. Eleven of them have switched loyalties to TRS over last four years. Revanth Reddy recently joined Congress party. Despite losing 12 MLAs, TDP feels that its 18 percent vote bank is still intact. The party still enjoys considerable support among Andhra migrants settled in Hyderabad and surrounding districts.

Congress is also reported to be ready to joins with TDP and also with Kodandaram’s Telangana Jana Samithi to forge a greater alliance to defeat BJP. The state leadership of the party is said to be waiting for green signal from the high command.

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