With Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao trying to form a federal front this elections, his effort is likely to clash with his Andhra Pradesh counterpart N. Chandrababu Naidu, who is also doing his best to bring regional leaders on board an anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition, including the Congress.
While Naidu, who has been sharing stage with leaders like West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) M. K. Stalin, etc, has a clear agenda, Rao’s moves have been ambiguous at best with no clarity. In fact his latest meeting with Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan is being seen as a signal that Rao, also known as KCR, might be flexible between supporting the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) or the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
TDP leaders, who did not want to be quoted, said that even if KCR offers to support to the UPA, it will not materialize given that Naidu has already joined hands with the Congress and will oppose the move. “As of now that is out of the question given KCR and Naidu’s rivalry," said a senior TDP leader, who did not want to be quoted.
He pointed out that the main opposition in AP, YSR Congress Party, which is headed by Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, is also supporting KCR, which won’t be acceptable to Naidu. Jagan Mohan Reddy had recently said announced his support to the federal front idea, stating that it will help him get special status category for AP. Other than him, no other leader has openly made such a statement.
“KCR’s federal front is a non-starter, because most parties are either with the Congress or BJP. Apart from Jagan, only Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik is left. It will be either Congress with regional parties or vice-versa, with Naidu as a convener of that front," said the TDP leader.
In the 2014 general elections, the TDP won 15 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in AP (YSRCP won 8) and one in Telangana, while the TRS won 11 of the 17. While TRS is likely to sweep the polls this time (party leaders claim it will win at least 15), Naidu is facing stiff competition from the YSRCP this time.
A senior TRS leader, who did not want to be quoted, said that while KCR is likely to tilt towards the NDA as of now, he might even decide to support the UPDA depending on the situation. “If the NDA gets close to 230 or 250 seats, then KCR is likely to support the BJP from outside. He won’t formally join the NDA. But he is certainly interested in forming a federal front," he added.
“One thing whatever democracy or ideology is being discussed, it is just academic. It is the number game that finally matters. Cutting across ideology, the UPA and NDA can support third front. There is a possibility of Naidu getting marginalized also, as Jagan and KCR can both change track according to the numbers required. Naidu and KCR have a conflict on the local/regional level and as of now are both at extremes," said Prof. E. Venkatesu, a faculty member from the University of Hyderabad’s political science department.