Hyderabad: After suffering various setbacks and getting severely weakened in Telangana since 2014, the Telugu Desam Party in Telangana is contemplating to contest the upcoming Huzurnagar by-election that will be held on 21 October. Senior party leaders met on Tuesday to take a call and decide whether or not to contest. After hours of discussion, they left the matter to TDP supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu to take a call.
Since the 2014 general and state elections, the TDP (which had 15 MLAs and one MP) has witnessed a constant exodus, especially after 12 of its MLAs defected to the ruling Telangana Rasgtra Samithi (TRS), during its previous term. Since then, many of its leaders joined the Congress, and more recently the BJP. The party was in such dire straits that it had not even contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Telangana (17 seats).
“We have left the matter to Chandrababu Naidu, so it is up to him to take a call. All the leaders from the Huzurnagar constituency also came and discussed the matter," said a TDP functionary, who did not want to be quoted. In the December 2018 state polls, the TDP joined the Congress-led alliance and contested 13 seats (out of 119). It managed to win two seats, but one of those MLAs has since jumped ship to the TRS.
Since then, matters have only gotten worse for it, as even some of its dedicated leaders like E. Peddi Reddy, who is a former cabinet minister (of the erstwhile joint Andhra Pradesh) quit. Peddi Reddy joined the Bharatiya Janata Party recently. Things for the TDP are not better in the neihgbouring AP as well, where it won just 23 out of 175 assembly seats in the 2019 state elections, while the ruling YSR Congress Party, led by chief minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, won 151 seats.
The Huzurnagar by-election was necessitated after sitting MLA and Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president N. Uttam Kumar Reddy had resigned as he successfully contested and won from the Nalgonda parliamentary seat during the 2019 general elections. His wife Padmavathi Reddy is likely to be given the ticket for it, while the TRS announced the candidature of Sanampudi Saidireddy, who had lost to Uttam in the 2018 polls by over 7,000 votes.
“The TDP in Telangana has been archived. It has lost its base since the 2018 assembly elections. Even the Congress concluded then that it lost a good percent of its votes and the seats then (due to the alliance). It is not even influential anymore (for other parties to tie up with it). Whether TDP contests or not, it won’t make any difference here this time," said Prof. E. Venkatesu, a faculty member from the University of Hyderabad’s political science department.