Hyderabad: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday concluded the final contours of a seat-sharing agreement with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh, adding muscle to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) a day before the country votes in the first phase of the Lok Sabha election.

This marks the re-entry of the TDP into the NDA after a 10-year gap, and is likely to strengthen the prospects of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. “The tie-up will benefit both the parties; it will benefit the country and the state," N. Chandrababu Naidu, president of the TDP, said at a media conference.

The pre-electoral tie-up will see the BJP contest in eight out of the 17 parliamentary seats in Telangana and five out of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Seemandhra—a term coined for the coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema regions of the state. The saffron party will also contest in 47 legislative constituencies in Telangana and 15 assembly segments in Seemandhra.

Elections to 17 Lok Sabha and 119 assembly seats in Telangana are scheduled for 30 April, while 175 assembly and 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in Seemandhra will exercise their mandate on 7 May.

“It is more of political expediency than any sincere mutual respect for each other," said K. Nageshwar, a political analyst who’s also an independent member of the Andhra Pradesh legislative council. “Two desperate parties are coming together."

The announcement comes after two weeks of negotiations between the two sides that at one point of time were on the verge of collapse over disagreement in seat sharing.

But it might not be a cake walk for the alliance. Conspicuous by his absence at the announcement in Hyderabad on Sunday was the BJP’s state unit president G. Kishan Reddy, who had earlier unsuccessfully lobbied with the party leadership to enter into a pre-poll tie-up with the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) in Telangana.

Supporters of some TDP leaders from Seemandhra, whose strongholds will be given to the BJP as part of the seat-sharing pact, resorted to sloganeering outside Naidu’s residence in Hyderabad.

There is bound to be some rebellion and back-stabbing in some constituencies, but that will not reverse the TDP’s decision because the alliance is at a national level, said Nageshwar.

“These alliances will inconvenience some people and cause sadness to some. There are leaders who have worked day and night for both the TDP and the BJP. It will not be possible to accommodate everybody," Naidu said. He was flanked by BJP national spokesperson Prakash Javadekarand Shiromani Akali Dal member of Parliament Naresh Gujral.

The BJP has a reasonably good base in Telangana and a nearly negligible presence in Seemandhra. The TDP, on the other hand, has strong cadre network in both regions, but is comparatively stronger in Seemandhra.

“It is more of electoral mathematics than political chemistry," Nageshwar said. There is neither common cause nor harmony and bonding between the two sides, and instead there is “comprehensive mutual distrust" and “animosity" at the local level, which might not effectively translate in voter shift, he said.

The TDP quit the NDA after it lost the general election in 2004. The two parties had been together since 1998 when the TDP provided outside support to the NDA helping Atal Bihari Vajpayee become prime minister. The TDP was the second largest coalition partner (in terms of seats) in the NDA government in 1999.

Naidu in 2011 regretted supporting the BJP-led NDA government in the aftermath of 2002 Gujarat riots as it tarnished the TDP’s image as a secular party and led to a trust deficit with Muslim voters. But lately, Naidu has moved closer to Modi, attending the latter’s swearing-in ceremony in Gujarat and sharing the dais with him on other occasions. “Narendra Modi will lead the NDA to over 300 seats in the Lok Sabha election," Naidu said on Sunday.

The TDP’s re-entry into the NDA, however, is unlikely to affect minority votes. “The TDP is already not getting minority votes. They are being taken up by YSRCP (the YSR Congress party, the TDP’s rival in Seemandhra)," said Nageshwar.

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