Hyderabad: After suffering multiple setbacks over the last five years, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Telangana is now trying to again revive itself in Telangana.
With just one MLA in the state, the TDP has seen a constant exodus of its leaders to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), and more recently to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The party, which didn’t contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, will also contest the upcoming Huzurnagar assembly elections on 21 October.
A senior TDP leader, who did not want to be quoted, said that TDP supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu has been spending a few days of a week in Hyderabad as part of his efforts to revive the party in Telangana. Naidu last week also appointed in-charges for all the 17 Lok Sabha parliamentary seats in Telangana. “We are hoping that some of our leaders who deserted us will return in the coming days," he added.
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 (out of 15) MLAs defected to the ruling Telangana Rashtra 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).
In the December 2018 state polls (held six months in advance as TRS supremo and Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao dissolved the government) 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. The Congress has won 19 while the TRS won 88 (now increased to 103 due to defections).
After a lot of deliberation between party leaders last week, it was decided to contest the upcoming Huzurnagar assembly by-election. The TDP on Sunday announced that it will give the ticket to candidate Chava Kiranmayi. The 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.
Uttam Kumar Reddy’s wife Padmavathi Reddy has been given a ticket from the Congress, while the TRS announced the candidature of Sanampudi Saidireddy, who had lost to Uttam in the 2018 polls by over 7,000 votes. While the TDP is unlikely to win, it may damage the prospects of the Congress, especially in case of a close contest. “We still have time to go before the next state elections, and the party line is that we have nothing to lose, even if we fail," said the TDP leader.
He added that efforts will also be on to try and bring some of its leaders back. Naidu, who was in Hyderabad on Saturday, also appointed in-charges for all the 17 parliamentary seats in Telangana, to once again improve its prospects in the state. “Most of our cadre have joined the BJP, due to lack of options. TDP has been anti-Congress from its inception, and it was anti-TRS, so BJP was the only chance," stated the TDP leader.
Political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy, however, said that the TDP first needs to get its house in order in Andhra Pradesh, where it is the main Opposition, and managed to win just 23 assembly seats out of 175 in the 2019 state elections. “They will be in the bye-election just for the sake of it. The TDP may think that it can cut into the TRS’s vote share, but the more the candidates, it will split the anti-incumbency votes. It will be a double-edged sword. We have to see how it goes," he added.