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Ties with BJP under strain, TDP threatens to go it alone in polls
Less than a fortnight after the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) returned to the NDA, its alliance with the BJP seems to be in trouble. The TDP has even threatened to delink from the BJP in Seemandhra and contest all the Lok Sabha and Assembly seats there on its own, while leaving the tie-up intact in Telangana.
Differences have cropped up between the two allies over two issues — TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu’s opposition to the BJP’s “weak” candidates in one Lok Sabha and six Assembly seats, and his insistence on sharing the stage with BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi at public meetings in Seemandhra.
While the issue of the BJP picking industrialist Gokaraju Ganga Raju for the Narasapuram Lok Sabha seat instead of Naidu’s choice — another industrialist, Raghuram Krishna Raju — may be settled by Friday evening, Naidu is still peeved with the BJP leadership for not responding to his request on sharing the dais with Modi.
Naidu has also objected to the BJP’s choice of candidates in several assembly constituencies in Seemandhra. His contention is that TDP candidates would have a better chance of winning than the BJP’s “weak” candidates.
“We have been maintaining right from the beginning that the alliance should be useful for both parties. But the TDP is ending up as the loser here. We have been forced to give away TDP seats to the BJP. Now they are fielding candidates who have no chance of winning.
These are all seats that the TDP can win by itself. If a BJP candidate loses in an assembly segment, we will lose that parliament seat also.
This will prove detrimental to the TDP. As of now, if the BJP does not cooperate with us and field candidates who can win, we will pull out of the alliance in Seemandhra and contest alone. In Telangana we cannot do anything because the nominations have already been filed,’’ said state TDP spokesperson Kodela Shiva Prasad Rao. He said the BJP’s candidates in Narasaraopet, Vijayawada, Nellore, Rajampet, Narasapuram and Rajahmundry had no chance of winning.
“During discussions with BJP leader Prakash Javadekar, it was understood that in the seats allotted to BJP, some favourable candidates suggested by Naidu would be selected. However, the BJP has ignored Naidu and nominated other candidates, and this has not gone down well in the TDP,’’ said a TDP leader.
However, state BJP president K Haribabu said there was no such understanding and Naidu had suggested a candidate only for Narasapuram LS seat. “We assured him that his suggestion would be considered… we found Ganga Raju to be a better choice,’’ he said.
Denying any problems with the TDP, he said, “There is no such thing. When two parties come together, some problems and hiccups are expected, but we have sorted out most of the major differences. A few minor things remain and I am sure that by the last date of filing nominations, everything will be sorted out,’’ said Haribabu, who is contesting from Visakhapatnam.
The BJP is contesting five Lok Sabha and 15 Assembly seats in Seemandhra. The Narasapuram LS seat was reportedly given to BJP with the understanding that Krishna Raju would be nominated. But the BJP chose Ganga Raju instead. Krishna Raju has now threatened to contest as an independent and seek the TDP’s support.
On the other issue of Naidu sharing the dais with Modi, BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu has informed him that Modi’s Telangana campaign schedule has been fixed and he is slated to address public meetings in Karimnagar, Nizamabad and Secunderabad.
“At the public meeting in Secunderabad, leaders of all BJP allies like TDP, Shiv Sena and SAD would be present. Chandrababu is fine with that but wants to share the stage with Modi at public meetings in Seemandhra. The BJP has not replied to this, but said that Modi would do road shows alone. Whether Chandrababu can share the dais with Modi or not is yet to be decided by them,’’ said a senior TDP leader.
Meanwhile, Javadekar, who arrived in Hyderabad on Thursday, said the alliance was important for the NDA. “There could be some differences over some matters but we are united in our approach. Seemandhra as well as Telangana need stable governments for fast development. We want a stable NDA government at the Centre and the TDP is an important partner in this,’’ he said.