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Telangana TDP in political wilderness

Telangana TDP in political wilderness
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Telangana TDP in political wilderness, The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) was written off as it suffered humiliating defeats in various bypolls. The...

A couple of years ago, The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) was written off as it suffered humiliating defeats in various bypolls. The momentous Telangana movement on one side and the fledgling Jagan wave on the other almost decimated the party. Serious questions were raised on the political acumen of its leader Chandrababu Naidu. But, steeled in the fiery political furnace, Chandrababu Naidu through an indefatigable struggle catapulted the party to power in the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh. Thus, a victim of bifurcation issue became a beneficiary of it. A host of factors like social engineering, political realignment, return to populism etc., helped Babu remake the history at least in the truncated part of the first linguistic state.

Most important factor that contributed to Chandrababu Naidu’s electoral victory is the post-bifurcation anxieties. But, the same post-bifurcation political eco system is proving to be debilitating for the party in Telangana region. In a frantic bid to infuse new dynamism into the party rank and file in this state, Chandrababu Naidu is occasionally giving a clarion call. But, the ground reality seems to be adverse. The party lacks the consummate skills to steer through the difficult political terrain in Telangana.

The very character of the party is the first impediment. Like many other regional outfits in India, Telugu Desam too is woven around a political dynasty, though it could develop a strong political organisation of its own. The party cannot visualise any other leader other than Chandrababu Naidu or his political successor. This creates a leadership vacuum for the party in this state. The TDP’s attempt to transform itself into a national party is only a strategic move to make the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister-led party to be politically relevant in Telangana state. The party also cannot act with alacrity to install a leader in Telangana. Meanwhile multiplicity of ambitious leaders further complicates the problem. Chandrababu Naidu cannot also invest in one leader the entire party destiny. The Krishnaiah experiment did not fructify. The party is not yet out of the fear of political poaching by the ruling party. It cannot raise a moral platitude as the party is precisely doing the same in Andhra Pradesh.

The city of Hyderabad is the only part of the Telangana state where it has done reasonably well along with its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But, this city is also not an impregnable stronghold for the party at least for two reasons. The TRS has improved its position as it enters into a strategic alliance with the MIM. Secondly, the political leadership of TDP is more vulnerable in the city as the ruling TRS is concentrating on the city TDP leaders. The ensuing civic polls in the city would prove to be a litmus test for the TDP’s political survival in the Telangana state.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister of Telangana is busy selling a colourful dream to the people. The TRS government is yet to give a chance for the opposition. Unlike in Andhra Pradesh, where the opposition is consolidated to capitalise on any discontent against government, the Telangana opposition space is also too crowded. The TDP has to compete with the Congress, the BJP and the Left for the opposition space. The unending controversies between two Telugu states is also making the situation politically disastrous for the TDP in Telangana. The party supremo Chandrababu Naidu at the helm of affairs in Andhra Pradesh is the reason for this.

The political tie-up between the TDP and the BJP is a marriage without love. These two political partners are estranged even before the alliance materialised. The TDP and the BJP may politically sail through. But, the BJP is in no mood to engage with the party on every political action. The Telangana BJP leadership is also politically ambitious. The BJP leadership is not united in its understanding over the utility of friendship with the TDP. The influential section of the state BJP right from the beginning believes that alliance with TDP is a loss for them at least in the long run. They seem to be holding the same view even in the post election period.

In fact, the Telangana TDP has belied the alarmist expectations with a relatively better show in the 2014 elections. Given the political context, the TDP’s electoral performance of 2014 in Telangana speaks volumes about its inner strength. Despite unprecedented onslaught, the party could retain a significance chunk of its organizational base. Chandrababu Naidu still enjoys a positive image even in Telangana, at least in the urban middle class. But this image is now shrouded in the controversies rocking the two Telugu states. The TDP can still make its presence felt and come out from its political wilderness if it can present itself as a coherent political formation championing the cause of Telangana masses especially when they are disenchanted with ruling dispensation. The TDP has a holy past, but its presence is murky. It can only expect a hopeful future if it succeeds in braving many a political complexity confronting it in Telangana.

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