2019 Assembly elections in AP: Will an alliance with Congress benefit TDP?

Some observers believe that the advantage for TDP will be to see opposition parties divided rather than finding a so-called partner.
2019 Assembly elections in AP: Will an alliance with Congress benefit TDP?
2019 Assembly elections in AP: Will an alliance with Congress benefit TDP?
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The politically charged attack that was aimed at the Narendra Modi-led BJP government following the no confidence motion by the TDP has more or less set the tone for the upcoming 2019 general elections. It has also established that, in Andhra Pradesh, the discussion will be centred around granting the Special Category Status (SCS) for the state.

The 12-hour discussion that ended with the BJP’s show of 326 votes against the Opposition’s 126 has also clearly revealed the rivals and allies for the wrestle that is coming up next year.

Be it the compelling speech by TDP’s businessman-turned-MP Galla Jayadev or the sharp criticism delivered by young MP K Ram Mohan Naidu in fluent Hindi, which is rare in Telugu lawmakers, or the supremo Chandrababu Naidu’s attack on Modi while speaking to reporters about the PM’s “arrogance” – all clearly showed that there was not a single chance for a rebound with the NDA.

While several political observers feel that Naidu may play a crucial role in consolidating a strong opposition against the BJP in 2019 at the Centre, the game back home is visibly tougher.

The TDP was established by popular film actor Nandamuri Tarakarama Rao (NTR) in the early 1980s, with whose rise Telugu politics found a tall rival to the then undefeatable Congress in the state.

However, the TDP has since garnered an image as a ‘party of coalition politics’ in its four-decade journey. For instance, in 2009, the party led the grand alliance with Left parties against the Congress while in 2014 it joined hands with the BJP and actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party.

Following the no confidence motion, Pawan, who has distanced himself from the TDP, accused the TDP of damaging the state’s interests as much as BJP. On the other hand, Jaganmohan Reddy of the YSRCP is an arch rival waiting to unseat the TDP with speculation rife that he may go with the BJP in 2019.

With all this under consideration, the TDP needs a partner who can help it at the national level. However, it remains to be seen if anyone is available for an alliance, besides the Congress, or if the Congress is ready to go with the TDP. These are the two questions on everyone’s minds.

A few observers say that the TDP may gain nothing by aligning with the Congress and instead such an alliance may turn into a liability. TDP functionaries are reportedly shooting down the idea saying they won’t go with the Congress.

Speaking to TNM, TDP official spokesperson Dinakar Lanka said, “There is no question of an alliance with the Congress as our party was founded against that party.”

When asked whether the TDP would consider aligning with the Congress if the proposal came from the Congress, he said, “Our party is keen on supporting a non-Congress and non-BJP coalition in the future.”

Former Kerala Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy, who was recently put in charge of the party’s state unit, had earlier stated that they would go it alone in the upcoming elections. However, some party leaders seem to have no problems in going with the TDP.

It may be noted that the Congress passed a resolution in favour of granting SCS to Andhra in its national plenary as well as in its high level Working Committee meet.

APCC spokesperson Kolanukonda Sivaji said, “Congress is the only alternate to BJP, we will unite all the secular forces to defeat the communal BJP. We are for SCS… TDP even supported the motion moved by our MP in the Rajya Sabha. I don’t think the TDP will be at a disadvantage if they do support us, we welcome the TDP, we don’t practise political untouchability.”

But Gidugu Rudraraju, another senior Congress leader, believes that there is no scope of an alliance with the TDP. He said, “As far as I know, there won’t be any alliance between the Congress and the TDP.”

Pentapati Pulla Rao, an activist and political observer, observes that going with the Congress will not be an advantage but a drawback. He pointed out, “The TDP will not go with Congress… if they do that, it will end up doing them more damage.”

Pulla Rao believes that the advantage for TDP will be to see opposition parties divided rather than finding a so-called potential partner.

He further observed, “If there is any sort of understanding or consensus between Jagan’s YSRCP and Pawan’s Jana Sena, it will definitely become a danger that can corner the TDP.”

He also opined that the TDP should not underestimate the BJP as its 5% or even less vote share can be a gamechanger. He wondered, “What if the BJP transfers its vote bank to others (YSRCP/Jana Sena)?”

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