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A tall order for TDP

A tall order for TDP
Highlights

The ongoing session of Mahanadu has become the forum for the TDP to formally decide to transform into a national party. Aspiring to be a national party is completely different from acquiring the status of a national party. But, as per the election law, TDP cannot be a national party.

The ongoing session of Mahanadu has become the forum for the TDP to formally decide to transform into a national party. Aspiring to be a national party is completely different from acquiring the status of a national party. But, as per the election law, TDP cannot be a national party.

According to the Election Commission of India, a political party shall be eligible to be recognised as a national party if: (i) it secures at least 6% of the valid votes polled in any four or more States, at a general election to the House of the People or, to the State Legislative Assembly; and (ii) in addition, it wins at least four seats in the House of the People from any State or States; or it wins at least 2% seats in the House of the People (i.e., 11 seats in the existing House having 543 members), and these members are elected from at least three different States.

At present, the TDP has presence in the legislatures of only two States – Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In 2014, across undivided Andhra Pradesh, TDP secured 29.1 per cent of vote share and its ally BJP 8.5 per cent in the elections to the Legislative Assembly. In the parliament elections, the TDP and the BJP polled 22.6 per cent in Telangana and 47.7 per cent in Seemandhra region. Being the party of the Telugu people, TDP can at best penetrate into Telugu-speaking areas of neighbouring States like Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Maharashtra, Karnataka etc.

In fact, after the bifurcation of a State, it is difficult for a regional party to have a significant presence in the two successor states. The Samajwadi Party has now a negligible presence in Uttarakhand. The RJD and the Janata Dal (U) failed to make any significant headway in Jharkhand. Similarly, Akali Dal has little or no presence in Haryana after the bifurcation of Punjab. Even the TDP is struggling hard to remain relevant in Telangana in the post-bifurcation period. Thus, the TDP is making a tall claim.

The TDP played a key role in national politics during the coalition era. But, with the emergence of the BJP as the party in power on its own, it lost the charm. The bifurcation of the State has also diminished the importance of Andhra Pradesh where the party is in power, as the number of Lok Sabha seats from the State has declined to 25 only from 42 in the undivided Andhra Pradesh.

Yet, the TDP has chosen to call itself a national party. Given its structural limitations, the party can do little in non-Telugu States despite the large presence of Telugu people in certain pockets of neighbouring states. The TDP cannot be the sole contender for Telugu votes even in these areas. But, it wants to go national to remain relevant inTelangana as it does not want to be seen as Seemandhra party. Given this political milieu of India, TDP’s ambition to become a national party is more strategic than realistic.

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