Tumultuous transition

Tumultuous transition

The Telugu Desam Party in its over three decades of existence could carve out a niche for itself in Indian political system as it braved  many a political storm only to emerge stronger. 

The Telugu Desam Party in its over three decades of existence could carve out a niche for itself in Indian political system as it braved many a political storm only to emerge stronger.

The issue of state bifurcation had inflicted a heavy damage on the fortunes of the TDP. But, the party made a remarkable turnaround in 2014, thanks to the unparallel political acumen and killer instinct shown by its supremo.

Chandrababu Naidu in the past suffered from a credibility gap among voters apropos his welfare agenda, due to his reformist image. But in the post-bifurcation scenario Naidu could overcome this.
The TDP demonstrated consummate political skills to swiftly move from its far right economic agenda to that of a political populism.

The TDP emerged with the rhetoric of pan-Telugu identity. Despite its tryst with identity politics, the party audaciously embraced unbridled globalisation. During its reformist heyday, a large section of the Indian middle classes believed that its leader Chandrababu Naidu was a potential prime ministerial candidate. But, the party has to now contend with its position as a junior partner in the NDA.

The TDP which owes its existence to a strident anti-Congress politics could conveniently subsume into the United Front whose survival was at Congress mercy. Similarly, the party that fervently opposed the worst communal tilt of NDA during the Gujarat carnage could now unhesitantly find comfort in the saffron-led brigade. One may call this political opportunism. But, the TDP admirers feel it is a demonstration of political pragmatism in the fast-changing political landscape of India.

The TDP in its chequered history was instrumental in rallying the federal forces against the unitary politics and the policies of the central government. But, it has now compromised with the Centre, realising the contemporary political arithmetic. Critics may call it political bankruptcy. But, it can well be described as reconciling with the matter-of-factness.

Despite its self-proclaimed national character, its political contours are increasingly shrinking to the residuary state. This reflects the rhetoric and reality confronting the party.

Unlike its counterpart in Uttar Pradesh, the TDP has pressed into motion a well-planned leadership transition indicating the political sagacity of its leader. Unlike many of the centrist political parties, the TDP is known for its formidable organisational character with a well-built foundation of an army of loyal cadre. Yet, its unfettered acceptance of turncoats into the party is only posing new challenges to a party otherwise known for discipline.

Where the leadership transition is on the anvil, where welfarism and reformism reconcile, where loyalists and defectors conflict, where linguistic identity and political compromise with federalism co-exist, where organisational coherence and political expediency co-occur , where its national aspirations and regional contours contradict… in that phase of political history, the Telugu Desam Party celebrates its annual Mahanadu.

The fragility of alliance with BJP, the challenge of retaining power in 2019, the question of survival in Telangana, the expectations of the people emerging out of the aspirations of the truncated state, the precarious economic situation made complex by fiscal profligacy remain the talking points at this mammoth political carnival.

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