TDP leaders go into a huddle to decide on ties with NDA
TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu talks to party’s district units to gauge the mood on alliance with BJP
New Delhi: Senior leaders of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) have held a series of meetings over the past two days and consulted with top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a bid to decide whether the party that rules Andhra Pradesh will continue to cooperate with National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the centre.
The consultation process on Saturday and Sunday was headed by Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu who discussed recent developments, including through teleconferences with party leaders who were visiting their constituencies.
Naidu also held discussions with the district units last week to gauge the mood of the party about the alliance with BJP after strong disagreements over the central budget’s failure to accommodate the state government’s demand for more development funds.
“The discussion process within the party is going on. The chief minister held two teleconference discussions on Saturday and one on Sunday with all the senior leaders of the party. A similar teleconference was also held a few days ago with the 13 district units to know their views about the alliance with BJP. There is general anger against BJP in the TDP as most senior leaders feel betrayed but the final decision will be taken by the chief minister,” said a senior leader of TDP who was present in the discussions.
Interestingly, the consultations within TDP have continued even after senior leaders of the BJP and ministers in the Union government tried to reach out to Naidu, signalling they have been unable to pacify the senior leadership of TDP.
“In the last six days, Chandrababu Naidu has received calls from Union home minister Rajnath Singh and BJP president Amit Shah but there has been no breakthrough. The chief minister is very clear about the demands for the state. The chief minister asked both Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah if their calls meant the assurance of the Union government, but both the leaders told CM that they were calling on their own,” the TDP leader added.
“TDP has been a good alliance partner for BJP. We didn’t complain for almost four years of the Union government. We expected that the BJP leadership will be sensitive to our concerns, but even after presenting its last full budget, the BJP leadership didn’t listen to our demands. Sometimes we wonder if BJP wants us in the NDA or not,” said the TDP leader.
The problems between TDP and BJP started during the budget session of Parliament as the Andhra Pradesh government was hoping to get more funds for the Polavaram Project and also a new railway zone for Visakhapatnam.
“This is not just a question of NDA, it is also about the federal structure of the country. The Union government had promised the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh and we are now asking those commitments to be fulfilled. We want special status for the state, but the Union government says it cannot happen and the Union government will only give special package. BJP has nothing to lose in Andhra Pradesh because the party has no influence but people will only question TDP leadership, primarily Chandrababu Naidu,” the TDP leader said.
Political analysts say the BJP doesn’t need allies to contest elections but will need NDA partners after the 2019 general elections. “BJP leaders believe that if the party is strong and succeeds electorally then alliance partners would come on their own. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah believe in this style of functioning so it is important for BJP to win more seats in 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” said Abhay Kumar Dubey, a Delhi-based political analyst.
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