The Telugu Desam Party in Telangana has announced that they will not be contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in April. The party, which does not have a major influence in Telangana, has decided to lend a shoulder to a bruised and battered Telangana Congress to take on the TRS.
“Given the circumstances, we are abstaining from the present Lok Sabha elections, the present situation is not conducive… the BJP and TRS have been stifling democracy, democratic people should fight against them… as a party, TDP has in all levels have abstained from elections,” read their release.
The upcoming Lok Sabha election in Telangana is a three-way battle between the ruling Telangana Rastra Samiti (TRS), the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
But the TRS is on a high in the state, having won 88 seats in the state Assembly elections in 2018, the panchayat elections in January and the recently concluded legislative council elections in March.
The Congress took a beating in the state despite their Prajakutami alliance with the TDP, the Telangana Jana Samiti (TJS) and the Communist Party of India (CPI). The party managed to win just 19 out of the 119 Assembly seats and was hit by a series of defections. As of March 26, nine of their MLAs have defected to the TRS.
Many Congress party workers at the ground level too are unhappy with the party’s decision to enter a formal alliance with their once arch-rival in Andhra Pradesh, the TDP.
The BJP, which also witnessed its assembly seats reduce from 3 to 1 like in the assembly polls is banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, other union and state ministers to campaign for their party in the state.
Political analysts say, the TDP has become politically irrelevant in the state since the Assembly elections. The party had contested 14 Assembly seats and they won just 2, one which one MLA defected to the TRS.
Shedding more clarity on the party’s electoral stand in Telangana, Ravula Chandrasekhar Reddy, politburo member of Telangana TDP, told TNM, “We have to oppose BJP and TRS in the Lok Sabha elections. In many constituencies, only Congress is fighting the TRS and in some constituencies, the TJS and the Left are fighting against the TRS – there are many overlaps. By and large, the idea is not to divide the anti-TRS, anti-BJP vote bank."
The TDP, for now, has left it to their local units to decide in what capacity they lend support to the Congress candidates. "In many constituencies, Congress leaders have approached the TDP units seeking help to contest at the parliamentary level. An example is Renuka Chowdhury, the Congress candidate from Khammam. The TDP cadre here has extended support to Renuka and even accompanied her to file her nomination,” added Ravula.
Ravula claimed that though KCR may have won Assembly elections, he has little support at the national level. “His claims of having the support of 100 MPs are all imaginary,” Ravulu said.
However, political analyst K Purushottam Reddy, the former head of the Political Science department at Osmania University, says TDP’s support to the Congress is a non-issue that won't make any difference to the voter.
“It won't have any impact, as it is there is no TDP or YSRCP in Telangana anymore. We have seen their leaders shifting parties. The notion of an anti-TRS and anti-BJP voter is an outdated political communication – today's electorate is enlightened, they vote en masse to boot the government out. Right now, an environment has been created that TRS is the only option for the voter in Telangana. This is not good for democracy, there should be dissent,” Reddy said.