Hyderabad: With no strong leaders and a completely depleted cadre, the sun may have finally set for the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Telangana, where it seems to have wound up operations. The development is evident with the party not contesting the Lok Sabha polls as well as the upcoming local body (Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituencies and Zilla Parishad Mandal Constituencies) elections, from 6 May in the state.
Senior TDP leaders, who did not want to be quoted, said most of the party’s cadre have joined other parties, which partly led to the situation. TDP supremo (and Andhra Pradesh chief minister) N. Chandrababu Naidu's decision to concentrate on Andhra Pradesh, where the TDP was in power (currently with a caretaker government, till assembly results are announced on 23 May) only also added to it.
“If you look at parties like the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the Congress, so many of their leaders are from the TDP. This is something that has happened progressively. There is barely anyone now. And it looks like it will be very difficult also to revive the TDP in Telangana," according to a senior TDP leader, who did not want to be named.
The TDP was in fact banking on winning at least half of the 13 assembly seats it had contested in an alliance with the Congress during the state elections last year. However, the alliance (which also included the Communist Party of India and the Telangana Jana Samithi) failed miserably with the TDP winning just two seats, while the Congress won 19. To add to its miseries, one of its two MLAs subsequently defected to the ruling TRS.
However, the rot had set in after the 2014 elections itself, when 12 of the TDP’s MLAs and its only member of parliament had defected to the TRS, weakening the party. It forced the TDP to align with the Congress, in spite of being created in 1982 on an anti-Congress platform (by founder N.T. Rama Rao). An Opposition leader from the TJS, who did not want to be quoted, said that the TDP now had just about 2 to 3% of vote share in most assembly seats, and a maximum of 6% in certain places.
“While leaders can go wherever they want to and can even say they won’t contest elections, the cadre will not move so easily. For example, the cadre of the Praja Rajyam Party was in a dilemma after the PRP was merged with the Congress, but in the case of TDP, the party still exists. Even the CPI still has cadre in spite of not having any strong faces," according to political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.
"Even the Uttar Pradesh-based Samajwadi Party has dedicated cadre here. The TDP will lie low as it is facing turbulent times now, and the best for it is to ensure that there is lesser damage."