A realization that the BJP is the best bet and that it had committed harakiri in facing PM Modi in the 2019 election seems to have roused the TDP supremo
For the first time in its four-decade history, the TDP is unsure what form of political alliance it should be part of in the 2024 elections.
Until a few years ago, the party was at the center of all major coalitions. both in New Delhi and in the state. Between 1985 and 1994, the NTR party founder generously adjusted seats with anti-Congress parties such as the CPI, CPM, BJP and Janata Party. And later, till 2019, NTR successor Chandrababu Naidu called shots and chose friends and foes according to his convenience. He dumped his friends if they didn’t suit him. He did not shy away from teaming up even with his main rivals for electoral gains. Now Naidu finds himself in a predicament where he is unable to make a choice according to his whims and fancies.
Fearing he won’t be able to take on the formidable Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy on his own, Naidu wants all anti-Jagan forces to come together so the anti-establishment vote isn’t split.
BJP keeps Naidu in the dark
Naidu is desperate to get closer to the BJP. A realization that the BJP is the best bet and that it had committed harakiri by facing Prime Minister Modi in the 2019 election seems to have surfaced on the TDP supremo.
But Modi was nonchalant. The result: Naidu, who used to keep his alliance partners in suspense by not revealing his position on any issue until the last minute, has also been eagerly awaiting a positive signal from Modi for three years.
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As unrest over rising petrol, diesel and gas prices rocked the nation, Naidu chose not to speak out against the Modi government, fearing it was sending the wrong signal. His party’s language against rising prices is so carefully chosen that it makes Chief Minister Jagan entirely responsible.
His party waged an aggressive campaign called baadude baadudu (basically blow after blow) against rising electricity tariffs, RTC bus tariffs, etc. So, for us, defeating the YSRCP in the next elections is more important than rehashing national politics,” said Kalva Srinivasulu, former TDP minister and member of the political bureau. The Federal.
This posture, however, did not elicit any favorable response from the central BJP. The state leadership in fact quickly rejected Naidu’s offer of a grand alliance against Jagan. BJP state party leader Somu Veerraju was adamant that there would be no alliance with the TDP. “We want to go with the Janasena party in the 2024 elections and the governance of Prime Minister Modi will be our main electoral board. ‘Janaalu and Janasena’ is our slogan. We will both form the government in 2024,” Veerraju said.
Curiously, Janasena leader Pawan Kalyan, who formed an alliance with the BJP after the 2019 defeat, is negotiating with Naidu for a pre-election pact. Nobody knows if he would stay with the BJP or go out with Naidu. Janasena secured a 5.5% vote share in the 2019 elections.
TDP thinks BJP is the best bet
Amid talk of a possible early assembly election, Andhra Pradesh state is witnessing a heated debate over possible alliances. Having experimented with all sorts of alliances, Naidu seems to have been convinced that of all the alliances he had, the one with the BJP was the only durable and reliable one despite a setback in 2004.
In 2009, he went to the polls with the TRS and the left, which turned out to be a disaster. Congress under YSR returned to power with an overwhelming majority. In 2014, he returned to the fold of the NDA and won the support of Pawan Kalyan to take on Congress and then emerge Jaganmohan Reddy. BJP Prime Minister candidate Modi’s Andhra campaign coupled with Pawan’s glamor has worked wonders and brought him back to power after 10 years.
Before that in 1999, the BJP played a key role in Naidu’s re-election. According to renowned political scientist Prof KC Suri of the Central University of Hyderabad, the victory of the TDP-BJP alliance was then not “as great as it claimed and the defeat of the Congress was not as miserable as ‘it seems’ because the margin between the two was only 10 lakh votes.
Analyzing the election result in a working paper titled “Democratic Process and Electoral Politics in Andhra Pradesh”, he wrote, “One of the main reasons for the victory of the TDP-BJP alliance in this election could be attributed to the TDP-BJP alliance itself.
However, in 2019, stating that his secular image was tarnished due to his association with Modi, Naidu left NDA. He suffered a miserable defeat at the hands of Jaganmohan Reddy in the election.
It is therefore not surprising that the party is unanimous for the TDP to revive the Modi-Naidu-Pawan alliance to prevent Jagan from forming the government for the second time in 2024.
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A second straight loss for 72-year-old Naidu would spell disaster for TDP. Naidu must prevent this from happening not only for the survival of the party, but also for the sake of his son Nara Lokesh, who is yet to prove himself in politics.
This uncertainty forces Naidu to speak of a grand alliance against Jagan. A similar sentiment was also expressed by Pawan. The star-turned-politician, despite his huge mass appeal, was unable to make it to the Assembly even after 10 years in politics. In 2019, he fought the election in the company of the left and the BSP. But he lost the two seats he was running for and his party won only one seat.
Immediately after the election, Pawan, forgetting his rabid anti-Modi past, struck a deal with the BJP, which in turn floated the idea that he would be named the NDA’s chief ministerial candidate in Andhra Pradesh.
Auction for the Anti-Jagan Front
It was in this context that Naidu announced “he is ready to make sacrifices to bring all parties together to overthrow the lawless government of Jaganmohan Reddy in the state”.
Immediately, the ruling YSRC responded with a delicate challenge. “If Naidu wants people to believe him, he should immediately announce the name of Pawan Kalyan as the chief ministerial candidate,” said Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy, party general secretary and Man Friday of Jagan.
Kapus, to which Pawan belongs, is a socially visible community and land owner like Reddys and Kammas. But, the caste, unable to compete with these two dominant castes in power stakes, wants a backward status. This enraged other backward classes as the proposal, if accepted, would swing the benefits of the reserves in favor of Kapus.
With a weak presence in the political spectrum, Kapus’ dream of seeing their man as chief minister has become unrealizable. If he allies with the TDP, Pawan would never become a chief ministerial candidate. Thus, NDA’s reported offer to make him the chief ministerial candidate is more enticing than a mere alliance with TDP.
BJP eyes TDP framework
Interestingly, the BJP harbors a desire to see Naidu defeated in 2024. In their view, this would force TDP leaders and cadres to migrate to the BJP to survive. “Why should we join the TDP to restore Naidu as Chief Minister? BJP suffered a lot in his company. He never allowed the party to grow in Andhra Pradesh when we were allied with him. So we will join neither the ruling YSRC nor the opposition TDP. Party policy in Telangana and Andhra is to fight for second place. We don’t want to stay third or fourth anymore. If the BJP wants to expand in Andhra Pradesh, the party must ensure the defeat of the TDP,” said Perala Sekhar Rao, former BJP national executive member and KVIC chairman for South India.
If that is the intention, how would the BJP allow Pawan to leave the alliance to join Naidu? And how could Pawan afford to ignore the BJP’s offer to cast him as the chief ministerial candidate?
But, according to commentator Gosala Prasad, this confusion would be cleared up once the presidential election is over. “Chances of the BJP linking up with Naidu and Pawan cannot be ruled out. The BJP is silent because of the presidential election,” he said.
The important question that demands an answer is whether Naidu will take on the role of ‘Kingmaker’ again and agree to sacrifice power and cast Pawan Kalyan as the chief ministerial candidate to entice the BJP to join the alliance. to defeat Jagan?
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