Hyderabad: More than 50 leaders of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Telangana, including former legislators and ministers, joined the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) on Monday, said BJP leaders of the state.
The move comes as a jolt to TDP led by former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, which is already weakened in the state and had not contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in the state.
Telangana BJP leaders said some Congress leaders had also joined their party.
Many TDP leaders had earlier quit and joined either the Congress or the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) led by chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao before the elections. However, this is the first mass shift of TDP leaders to the BJP, which hopes to replace the Congress and emerge as an alternative to the TRS in the state after winning four Lok Sabha seats and attracting leaders from other parties.
BJP national working president J.P. Nadda was in Hyderabad on Sunday to take stock of the developments in the state and left on Monday afternoon. “In total, close to 70 leaders joined our party and about 20% of them are from the Congress. Moreover, about 20,000-odd cadre of theirs have also joined the BJP," said a BJP leader from Telangana who did not want to be named.
A TDP leader, who also did not want to be named, confirmed the development. “The party has been weakened for a long time in Telangana," he said.
The TDP has steadily lost its leaders and cadre since the 2014 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections when it had 15 MLAs and one MP. It first lost 12 MLAs and one MP to the TRS and later one MLA to the Congress. In the 2018, Assembly polls, it contested 13 seats and won two in an alliance led by the Congress.
However, just days later, the TDP lost one of its MLAs to the TRS again. The party decided not to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections because of the situation in the party. Now,the TDP seems to be on its last legs in Telangana. The BJP, meanwhile, has managed to grow in Telangana at the expense of the Congress, especially after its debacle in 2018 state polls, where it won just one Assembly seat and got 7% of the vote share (the Congress won 19 seats and the TRS 88). The BJP won four Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 elections and even increased its vote share to 20%. The Congress won three parliamentary seats, while the ruling TRS won nine.