TDP as National Party
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in its recently held politburo meeting report- edly decided to appoint a commit- tee to study modalities for making it a national party.
Personal images do not automatically translate into political foothold for the party, that too in a national political arena c rowded with multiplicity of parties. But, there is a purpose behind this cosmetic change that may take place in the party. As the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu has to defend the interests of his State, but as the party president, he has stakes in Telangana also. His party is being derided as an Andhra party. The latest exercise to give a symbolic character of national party status to the TDP is a response to the political compulsions
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in its recently held politburo meeting report- edly decided to appoint a commit- tee to study modalities for making it a national party. The said com- mittee is expected to look into the possibility and feasibility of turn- ing the TDP into a national party.
The committee shall submit its re- port in few months which would be placed before the 2015 Ma- hanadu to be held in Vijayawada, the designated capital of residuary Andhra Pradesh state where the TDP is in power.
In fact, such a proposal is nothing new. It was echoed even in the past. There was even a proposal to name it Bharata Desam Party. But nothing has ma- terialised since then. The party leadership also did not pay any se- rious attention to the proposal in the past. There was no political ne- cessity to do so, leave alone the possibility of making this a reality. What has now transpired within the party to revive the proposal?
The new development is that the proposal is now initiated by the party leadership, and that too in the highest decision-making body of the party. This is also the first time that the party gave it a con- crete shape in the form of appoint- ing a committee. Thus, one can in- fer some seriousness in the exercise.
But, the moot point is whether it is a serious effort to transform the party into a national party or is it only an attempt to tide over the political complexities thrown open by the bifurcation of the state and subsequent develop- ments that saw the party in the seat of power in one of the two Telugu states. Before delving into the political aspects of the proposal, it is worth noting the technicalities involved in getting a national party status.
The Election Commission of In- dia has decided that henceforth a political party shall be eligible to be recognised as a National party if :- (i) it secures at least six per cent (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 two per cent (2%) seats in the House of the Peo- ple (i.e., 11 seats in the existing House having 543 members), and these members are elected from at least from three different States. Source:http://eci.nic.in/archive/ press/current/PN05122k.htm This makes it clear that the TDP cannot expect to fulfil this criterion at least in the immediate future. But, it cannot be ruled out as it can hope to get a seat or more in the neighbouring states where there are significant pockets of Telugu- speaking people.
At least, there is a sizable Telugu-speaking popula- tion in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Odisha, Maharashtra, apart from the two Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. But, the tech- nicalities are not of great relevance here.
The TDP is not vying for the recognition from the Election com- mission of India. It only wants a national political presence in the limited sense. The ‘national’ is op- erationally defined here as having presence in states other than the two Telugu states.
In fact, the AIADMK calls itself as an all In- dia party, though it has presence in Tamil Nadu and a tiny state of Pondicherry only. The parties like Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, Nationalist Congress Party etc. made feeble attempts to expand their base beyond their tra- ditional strongholds.
But, all these attempts were never successful. Therefore, the Telugu Desam Party is not hoping to convert the party into a national party similar to Congress or BJP.
The TDP is fully alive to the political realities. But, what made TDP make this bid afresh? There are political com- pulsions for the TDP to make this latest effort. The attempt of TDP to call itself a national party is a strategic move rather than one with political sub- stance. The TDP leadership certainly has a national image. N T Rama Rao headed the national front. Un- der his leadership, the TDP played an instrumental role in galvanising anti-Congress political forces in the country.
Ever Chandrababu Naidu was the convenor of United Front when it was heading a coali- tion government at the Centre. Even today, Chandrababu Naidu has national political stature and he is one among the few Indian politicians having national politi- cal image despite leading regional parties. But, such an image is not suffi- cient to transform the TDP into a national party.
Personal images do not automatically translate into po- litical foothold for the party, that too in a national political arena crowded with multiplicity of par- ties. The TDP leadership is not in- nocent to ignore these basic facts. But, there is a purpose behind this cosmetic change that may take place in the party. The bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh created a unique and com- plex political situation for the TDP.
Chandrababu Nadu is the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, while the party is in opposition in Telan- gana. Thus, The TDP in Telangana is also headed by the Chief Minis- ter of Andhra Pradesh. This has become much more embarrassing for the Telangana party leadership at a time when there are many un- resolved issues between two Tel- ugu states. The TRS is using every opportunity to push the Telangana TDP into a bashful political situa- tion.
The TRS continues its tirade on TDP, calling it an Andhra party even after the bifurcation. On one hand, as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, the president of TDP has to strongly defend the in- terests of his state, and on the other, he should balance his stand as the leader of the party that has stakes in Telangana also.
The TDP leadership is often caught in a catch-22 situation. The TDP has performed more than anyone expected in Telangana state. This keeps the party hopes in the Telangana state alive unlike the YSR Congress Party which is almost wiped out in Telangana state. This is often causing dis- comfiture to both the Telangana TDP unit and Chandrababu Naidu.
This exercise to give a symbolic character of national party is a re- sponse to the political compulsions thrust upon the party by the post- bifurcation political landscape in the two Telugu states