Chandrababu Naidu has given firm indication that his party may join hands with congress in the ensuing elections. TDP has been a principal rival of congress since its inception both in the state and national politics. But, this changing political landscape in the state is redefining contours of relationship between TDP and congress. The special status narrative helps TDP to defend its major political shift. However, political circles are yet to agree on the electoral implications for TDP due to its proximity with congress, the party that bifurcated the state against the wishes of people of Seemandhra region.
It is true that the TDP was formed by NT Rama Rao to fight the Congress monopoly . But, it is also equally true that the TDP in its course of existence has seen many changes in the political landscape resulting in moderation and revision of its tactics. The United Front government for which N Chandrababu Naidu was the convener survived with the outside support of congress. Therefore , it need not be unusual if TDP firms up its decision to join hands with the Congress. In fact, today, Congress is no longer principal political rival for the ruling TDP.
Alliances mainly depend upon who is fighting whom. The TDP is pitted against the YSR Congress and the Congress is an insignificant player in the state politics today.
The first argument of the critics of TDP-Congress alliance is that the party has bifurcated the state against the wishes of people of Andhra region. The TDP and its supremo have been cursing the Congress for what they call most arbitrary bifurcation of the state. How can TDP join hands with Congress . But, the fact is that every political party except CPI(M) has supported the bifurcation. The united Andhra Pradesh would not have been divided without the active support of BJP. Yet, the TDP had electoral alliance with BJP in 2014. Still the voters did not mind as they were desperately looking for help from Centre and the BJP was poised to come to power in Delhi.
Similarly, the TDP now argues that the Congress is the only other alternate force to come to power at the Centre. The congress has already extended its full support for the demand for special category status. The Congress president Rahul Gandhi has personally favoured the idea.
The TDP leadership hopes that as the special status narrative fast replaces the bifurcation narrative, the voters would not mind its alliance with Congress. The Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh are expected to herald Congress governments . If this happens, there is a possibility of favourable political climate for the Congress. The TDP hopes to exploit this to defend its possible electoral understanding with congress.
Meanwhile the TDP would immediately benefit from alliance with Congress in Telangana even as the political implication of such an understanding on the mandate in Andhra Pradesh is yet not clear. The TDP cannot survive in Telangana without any electoral alliances. The TDP has almost no choice except to tie up with the Congress.
The TDP is running a high decibel anti BJP campaign. As TRS moves closer to BJP, the TDP hopes to defend its alliance with Congress as a bid to isolate and defeat BJP
The anti Modi rhetoric would help TDP to claim that it would do anything and everything possible to halt or resist Modi juggernaut . In such a crusade, claims TDP even Congress is not an untouchable.
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( Prof.K. Nageshwar is India’s noted political analyst. He is a former member of the Telangana Legislative Council and professor in the Department of Communication & Journalism, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India )