Finalised after some hiccups, TDP’s alliance with BJP may pose a challenge to the regional party’s poll prospects in Seemandhra as a sizeable section of minority community voters, who can swing outcomes in some seats, seem to be wary of its tie up with the saffron outfit.
Apart from Muslims, who constitute over 12 per cent of voters, there are nearly 10 per cent Christians out of the nearly 3.5 crore electorate in the Seemandhra region and they are being wooed by leaders of all political parties as their support can impact the poll outcome.
But the Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP may find it tough to convince these minority community electors to vote for it this time as members of the community are said to be wary over its decision to join hands with BJP.
According to Hamid Hussain, Kadapa district president of Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, poll dynamics in Seemandhra would have been different had TDP not had any truck with BJP.
“With TDP opting for (an alliance with) BJP, Muslims cannot prefer Naidu’s party,” said Hussain.
Andhra Pradesh, which is set to be bifurcated in June to create the separate state of Telangana, is simultaneously voting for Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in two phases.
Polling is to be held in the Seemandhra region on May 7 while voting in the Telangana region was completed on April 30.
Muslim voters are largely expected to back the Jaganmohan Reddy-led YSR Congress this time while Congress, too, is eyeing a share of the votes of the minority community.
Habeebur Rahman, president of Muslim United Front, a non- political organisation based in Vijayawada, said, “Minorities would be supporting Muslim candidates fielded by both parties (Congress and YSR Congress) in the Assembly segments.
“In Lok Sabha constituencies, we would support a common candidate, either from YSR Congress or Congress, based on their personal credentials to ensure that Muslim votes are not divided.”
YSR Congress has put up only four candidates from the minority community for Assembly elections to 175 seats while it has not fielded any minority community contestant in the 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in Seemandhra.
As for TDP and Congress, both parties have fielded only one Muslim candidate each in the said 25 seats. While TDP has put up N Md Farook in Nandyal, Congress has handed a ticket to Abdul Waheed Shaik in Guntur.
Minorities across Seemandhra have been traditionally Congress supporters. But a considerable number of Muslim voters are expected to rally this time behind YSR Congress, especially with Congress facing anger over the separate Telangana decision, which many term as “unilateral”, and TDP deciding to go with BJP.
Following the announcement of the alliance with BJP, a senior TDP figure and its Politburo member Zahed Ali Khan quit the party in protest over the move.
But hoping for a turnaround this time, TDP chief Naidu is making every effort to find favour with Muslim voters and is trying to assuage the fears of the community during his election rallies.
On the other hand, Congress is also confident about winning the Muslim votes.
“Congress is the only secular party in the state. Hence, minorities will only vote for us,” said Syed Mohd Ahmadullah, the minister for minority welfare in the outgoing Andhra Pradesh government.