The political landscape in Telangana seems to be witnessing strange developments as speculation is rife that the TRS and TDP, once arch rivals, may form an alliance in the state for the upcoming 2019 general elections.
The speculation was made more substantial as Andhra Chief Minister and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, while interacting with TDP cadre in Hyderabad, said, "Forging an electoral alliance is a must for the survival of the party in Telangana. We will decide with which party we should align for the next polls after holding thorough discussions.”
This comes in the wake of the TDP-BJP alliance not holding strong in Telangana, which leaves the TDP with the choice of aligning with either the Congress, which it accuses of ‘unjust’ bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, or the TRS.
The political alliance of TDP with BJP has turned sour ever since the meagre fund allocation to Andhra in the Union Budget, where none of the bifurcation promises were fulfilled.
The possible alliance has been on the radar of several political commentators in the state, who are waiting for the elections to get closer, and the alliances to be announced.
Speaking to TNM, Dr Pentapati Pullarao, an independent Economist and rights activist, said, “While the TDP doesn't go with the Congress, and the BJP has refused to be in an alliance with TDP in Telangana, they are left with no choice, other than TRS."
Pointing out that the TRS will have the upper hand if they go ahead with the alliance, Pullarao added,"Though the TDP may have to ally with the TRS, the question of whether the ruling party in Telangana would agree or not is the question, given Naidu's shrewd politics ."
However, some feel that an alliance can help both parties, as the TDP will get to safeguard its cadre and party in Telangana, while the TRS will be able to garner votes from Andhra natives who have settled in Hyderabad.
In January this year, senior TDP leader Motkupalli Narasimhulu triggered a controversy after he suggested that the Telangana unit of the party should “merge with the TRS”.
Speaking to reporters on the occasion of the 22nd death anniversary of former Chief Minister and TDP founder NT Rama Rao, Narasimhulu said, “The TDP in Telangana is in dire straits today. There is a need to come out of this trouble, so that we can go forward and save the party. People are saying that the TDP in Telangana is getting dissolved by the day, and this is painful to me.”
“KCR was also from our party only. Many ministers in the cabinet have worked under Naidu at one point...I think that Naidu and KCR should be like brothers and merge the Telangana unit of the TDP into the TRS,” he added.
KCR had contested and won as a TDP MLA four times before being appointed a minister in NTR’s cabinet. He had also served in Naidu’s cabinet in 1996, before resigning from the party in 2001 and taking up the cause of a separate Telangana state.
Naidu is also faced with his alleged involvement in the cash-for-vote scam in Telangana, which is being heard by the Supreme Court at present.
Telangana legislator A Revanth Reddy was caught red-handed by the ACB on May 31, 2015, when he was allegedly offering Rs 50 lakh to Independent MLA Stephenson to make him vote for the TDP-BJP candidate in the elections to the Telangana legislative council.
ACB, which had laid a trap on a complaint by Stephenson, also arrested Revanth Reddy's aides. TRS leaders have alleged that Naidu is the mastermind in the scam and he should be booked.
The ACB had earlier said that there were 516 telephone conversation records in the phone of Sebastian, one of the aides arrested, of which 102 are related to the cash-for-vote case.
However, the most important phone call was one alleged to be between Elvis Stephenson and Chandrababu Naidu.
The audio tape was first played by T News, a Telugu news channel owned by the TRS and was later picked up by others.
During the conversation, Naidu purportedly assured the nominated member that he is with him. "Our people briefed me. I am with you don't bother. For everything I am with you. What all they spoke, we will honour," Naidu was heard telling the legislator.
Opposition parties hit back
Meanwhile, the BJP does not seem to be bothered with the speculated alliance and says that it will not affect their fortunes.
Speaking to TNM, BJP spokesperson Krishna Sagar Rao said, "We have maintained right from 2014 that we would go alone in 2019 in Telangana. We don't believe that their possible alliance will affect us."
Taking a dig at the two parties, Rao added, “If it does happen, it would be an opportunistic and unethical alliance.”
Meanwhile, the Congress which is already the chief opposition in the state, is clearly positioning itself as an alternative to the TRS. The party has even undertaken a bus yatra across Telangana, to reach out to the masses and "expose the failures" of the ruling party in Telangana.
When asked about a TRS-TDP alliance, Nuthi Sreekanth Goud, an OBC Cell representative from Telangana Congress lashed out saying, "If they go ahead, this alliance will be just one of many of KCR’s unethical deeds."
Continuing his attack on the TRS government, Goud added, "They are only confined to promises, and not fulfilling them. Telangana voters are politically vibrant and they will give a befitting reply.”
Besides all this, there is a precedent. In 2009, the TRS and TDP formed a Mahakutami or ‘grand alliance’ along with two left parties (CPI-CPM) to defeat the Congress, then in power.
Meanwhile, the TRS has remained largely mum over the issue, and it all boils down to what the party has to say.