Ahead of Telangana Assembly Polls on December 7, Congress and TDP join hands

Congress, TDP forge alliance ahead of Telangana polls on December 7, 2018

Barely a week left for the south Indian state of Telangana going to Assembly polls, the Congress and the Telugu Desam party (TDP), which were on either side of the camps, have firmed up their minds to leave the past and forge a new alliance and face the might of Telangana Rasthra Samithi (TRS) led by K. Chandrasekara Rao (KCR). The TDP severed the umbilical chord with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) as early as March this year and its leader, Nara Chandrababu Naidu (N. Chandrababu Naidu) is ever since been toiling to stitch a strong opposition alliance to defeat the ruling BJP led NDA in the federal election to be held in 2019.

Setting aside the age difference, Naidu who is two decades older than the Congress chief, Rahul Gandhi, decided to sail on the same boat, without leaving any speculation as to who will be the Prime Ministerial candidate, backing himself off, Naidu had earlier clarified that he was not into the race.

Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi and TDP leader Nara Chandrababu Naidu in Hyderabad yesterday, Photo: Agency.

Gandhi, in fact, had told the New Delhi Television (NDTV) channel last night that the Congress and the TDP were no longer rivals and added that the chemistry is working out pretty well like never before. Stating that the new bonhomie with the TDP and its leader, Naidu is working well, Gandhi added: “We like each other. We think there is a lot we can to together. I think, you are going to see that in the forthcoming polls, we are going to win the elections.”

Gandhi, who visited the capital city of Telangana, Hyderabad yesterday in order to campaign for the alliance, which was firmed up during the meeting he had with Naidu early this month in Delhi, which will be broad-based and long-term.

While speaking on the occasion, Naidu said, “We are very clear that India is very, very important. Therefore, it is our bounden duty for both TDP and Congress and other like minded political parties to stitch an grand alliance to defeat the BJP in the 2018 Lok Sabha polls and save the nation.”

Both Rahul Gandhi and Chandrababu Naidu, taking on the might of TRS will campaign, consisting of public meetings and roadshows. The two leaders will address the voters sharing the dais together in three rallies at Asif Nagar, Khammam and Sanathnagar.

Anti Incumbency Factor

TRS, which is facing anti-incumbency factor, is contesting in all seats. The TDP, which has a slender voter base, since the bifurcation of the combined Andhra, many people had relocated to Vijawada and other place leaving Hyderabad and other regions of Telangana, has now forged alliance with the Congress, which still has some clout. TDP has formed alliance with other political parties such as Congress, Communist Party of India (CPI) and Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) and stitched a grand alliance, “Mahakutami“, which is considered as the initial experimentation before the grand alliance could actually take of at the federal level at the General Elections next year.

Facilitator

The new avatar of Naidu is that of a facilitator, who is travelling the length and breadth of the country to iron out differences with various political parties and cobble a grand alliance with a Common Minimum Programme. The understanding the various opposition parties have arrived at is to fight the election on regional basis and depending on the poll outcome, if it is positive, based on the number of seats each party had won in the Lok Sabha seats, then they would sit and decide the Prime Minister.

In order to drum up support to his ambitious plan of grand alliance, Naidu has been visiting Delhi often meeting senior political leaders such as Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference (NC) in addition to the meeting he had with the Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader, Arvind Kejriwal.

If you trace the genesis of the TDP, way back in the early eighties, when Naidu’s father in law and matinee idol, Nandamuri Basava Taraka Rama Rao (NT Rama Rao), a popular actor in the combined Andhra Pradesh wanted to end the mis-rule of Congress. Within months of forming the Telugu Desam Party, Rao rode to power when the State Assembly elections were held in 1983, thus he formed the maiden non-Congress Government in Andhra Pradesh.

Rao introduced several measures including offering rice for the poor for just Rs.2. When his Government was pulled down by the Congress by anointing Nathella Bhaskara Rao by the all powerful Indira Gandhi led Congress Government at the helm, Rao took his cadres and MPs to Delhi and protested in front of the Parliament for justice. Rao was also very friendly with the then neighbouring Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Marudur Gopala Menon Ramachandran (MG Ramachandran or more popularly known as MGR like his counterpart NTR), another cinema icon in the Tamil tinsel town.

Naidu started off his political career as a student leader of the TDP and married NTR’s daughter and after the demise of NTR, took over the mantle from his father in law. In the late nineties, Naidu ran for the Assembly election forging alliance with Left parties. Eventually, the political compulsions drew him to have political understanding with the BJP. At the start of this year, Naidu exited the NDA camp, infuriated over the BJP led federal government’s reticence to give special status to the newly formed state of Andrha Pradesh after the bifurcation of combined Andhra Pradesh into Telangana and Andhra. In fact, the BJP had initially promised the TDP that they would give special status, only to back track and further to frustrate him, refused to fund more for building the capital Amaravati in AP.

Buriying all the hatchets, Gandhi, who had earlier admitted that both the Congress and the TDP had “a past” – last night said, “We are working together because there is a threat to this nation from the Prime Minister and from the BJP.”

Naidu also added that it was a national mission that all the political parties, shedding their differences had joined hands withe purpose of unseating the BJP in the hustings in 2019.