Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu appears to have stirred a hornet’s nest within his party by tying up with BJP. Naidu is facing flak from all quarters of his party in both Telangana and Seemandhra. While some leaders are totally against the alliance itself, others are protesting against the number of seats conceded to BJP.
On the other hand, now that they have sealed the deal, BJP has stepped up pressure on Naidu to allot seats that it chooses, irrespective of whether TDP feels it can win and the BJP may not.
Amidst protests, self-immolation and suicide threats outside his residence and TDP office, a visibly upset Naidu cautiously released the first list of nominees for 27 Assembly and 3 LS seats in Telangana. Sitting MP Ramesh Rathod has been renominated from Adilabad while K Madan Mohan Rao and Banoth Mohan Lal have been named as candidates for Zahirabad and Mahbubabad (ST) Lok Sabha constituencies.
Six sitting MLAs have also been renominated from their respective seats while 21 others have been given tickets in the first list.
Naidu took pains to explain that the alliance was necessary given the present political situation in the state, and assured his party leaders and cadre that it will be a win-win situation. He repeatedly appealed to his partymen to think and consider carefully the choices he was making before opposing or protesting.
“TDP is not new to electoral alliances; we have done it in the past also. Due to the alliance we face some difficulties but leaders and cadre should understand that accommodating one and all is not easy.
“In spite of my best efforts some people may be left out but I assure them that they would be taken care of once we form the government in the form of appointment as Legislative Council members, appointments to corporations, RS MPs etc.
“I appeal to all TDP members to please cooperate and unite and work so that the party wins,’’ Naidu said, before releasing the first list.
The TDP chief said that nominees for all the remaining assembly and LS seats would be declared on Tuesday morning, a day before the last date of filing nominations.
“A number of adjustments and balancing has been done so that there is as little heartburn as possible. Discussions are ongoing with local leaders in Adilababad, Nizamabad, Khammam and Mahbubnagar,” he said.
The first list is said to be to gauge the mood of party men and buy time while negotiations are on to decide candidates for other constituencies.
Naidu said that since December, he had commissioned five surveys to not only assess the position of TDP in Telangana and Seemandhra, but also to identify suitable candidates.
“We took a scientific approach in selection of candidates. We had extensive interviews with party workers and gathered information through IVR from public. This list is based on merit,” Naidu said.
Even as Naidu was announcing the list, supporters of several aspirants from constituencies in Hyderabad staged demonstrations outside his house.
“I am not sure if this is going to work. BJP is demanding Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada Lok Sabha seats and TDP may have to agree. The tie-up will end up harming TDP more than the BJP,” a top TDP leader after the first list was announced.
Political observers say that in Naidu’s do-or-die election, he is making choices that may work at cross-purposes.
“BJP fancies its chances for having facilitated the passage of Telangana Bill. But what may work for BJP in Telangana works against it in Seemandhra. Even in Telangana, I am not sure if BJP can make any impact with the poll plank that they helped create the new state,” says Telakapalli Ravi.
TDP also appears to have acceded more than its share of seats to BJP in Telangana—47 assembly and 8 LS seats.
On the other hand, aspirants and their supporters of BJP also staged protests outside BJP office in Hyderabad and districts.