Photo: Twitter@NCBN
Photo: Twitter@NCBN

TDP stares at existential crisis in Telangana as its fate hinges on 7 Dec polls

The party needs to win a majority of the 13 seats it is contesting in the 119-member assembly, say TDP leaders

Hyderabad: The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Telangana might be staring at an existential crisis, as its survival is likely to depend on the results of the 7 December Assembly elections.

Senior TDP leaders said the party needs to win a majority of the 13 seats it is contesting in the 119-member Assembly, as part of the Congress-led grand alliance, to stay relevant in state politics. If not, it might have to fold up for good.

TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu broke his alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party in March to join hands with his former nemesis, the Congress. This surprised everyone as the party was founded in 1982 by former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N.T. Rama Rao to get rid of the “inept rule" of the Indian National Congress.

The TDP has a chance of winning seven or eight seats out of the 13 it is contesting, said a senior party leader who did not want to be named.

“Most of the seats have a sizeable chunk of Andhra settlers and people from the Kamma community, who will support the TDP. After the 2014 elections, we were at our lowest ebb because of defections. However, Chandrababu Naidu again decided to fight KCR (K. Chandrashekar Rao) after aligning with the Congress. If we lose, we will lose relevance for good in Telangana," said the leader cited above.

In the 2014 Telangana polls, the TDP had won 15 seats, mainly in Hyderabad and its surrounding areas, including Kukatpally and LB Nagar, where there is a sizable number of settlers from Andhra. Naidu, who has been campaigning in Hyderabad for nearly a week, hopes to draw support from these areas.

Naidu’s presence has even drawn the ire of caretaker chief minister (and Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief) KCR, who accused Naidu of “creating differences between the Telugu people" at a huge public meeting on 2 December in Hyderabad.

In the 2014 polls, Rao’s TRS had won 63 seats and came into power, while the Congress won 21 seats. However, around 30 MLAs, including 12 from the TDP, subsequently defected to the TRS. A huge chunk of the party’s cadre has also shifted allegiance. Another defection to the Congress in 2017 finally left the TDP with just two legislators (one of them left last month to contest on a Congress ticket) and a weakened party. It is to be seen how much support the TDP can still muster.

Political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy said the TDP will get completely wiped out of Telangana if it doesn’t win at least five or six seats. “This is actually his real test. Moreover, the AP chief minister would also like to have the tag of a national president, rather than being the head of a regional party."