The Telugu Desam Party is caught in a political quandary in Telangana, while it is grappling to extricate itself from a quagmire in Andhra Pradesh.
Chandrababu Naidu, the supremo of the party who had proudly declared that his party would soon be a national party and had himself elected the party's national president and appointed two State presidents for AP and Telangana, is now trying to put up a brave front in Telangana.
The TDP Government is facing very serious allegations, of course, from the main Opposition, the YSR Congress, which served a no-confidence motion against the Government in the State Legislative Assembly on Thursday.
The TRS, which secured a wafer-thin majority in the Assembly elections in 2014, has gone on a marauding spree and scooped out as many 12 out of 15 TDP MLAs into its fold and bestowed some of them with Cabinet berths. In an attempt to debilitate the party in its bastions, the TRS lured most powerful leaders like Tummala Nageswara Rao in Khammam and E Dayakar Rao (the Telugu Desam Legislature Party leader in Telangana Assembly), who were trusted lieutenants of Chandrababu Naidu.
The result: the TDP won a goose egg in the elections of municipal corporations of Warangal and Khammam.
It was not long ago that the TRS ripped the TDP apart in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections. The elections to the urban civic body gave the TDP goosebumps with just only one of its nominees being elected to the 150-corporator body.
The confidence the party wore on its sleeve, especially in the city after its impressive show in the 2014 elections, is now in a shambles and the party, in tatters.
It is only a conjecture of time before its lone MP from Malkajgiri and the remaining leaders take to their wings to join the ranks of the TRS. The party now is left with just three MLAs: R Krishnaiah, who was projected as the Chief Ministerial candidate in the event of the TDP being voted to power in Telangana, apart from the two accused MLAs – A Revanth Reddy and S Venkata Veeraiah — in the infamous #CashForVotes case.
There can’t be a worse embarrassment to the party in the State than the TDLP leader, who had earlier sought the disqualification of some of his colleague legislators on account of defection, himself submitting a letter to the same Speaker of the same House to recognize the “merger” of the TDLP into the TRSLP.
The swagger the TDP used to flaunt saying that it wouldn’t lose anything if a couple of leaders leave the party, as it had a strong cadre base, has now become a subject of ridicule. Sadly for the party, it has come a cropper with zero count in two major towns and a single corporator in the State capital.
Coming to Andhra Pradesh, where it is in power, the TDP is grappling with a myriad challenges. The Opposition YSR Congress has literally set the agenda for the ruling party on the eve of budget session of the Assembly.
The newspaper owned by YS Jaganmohan Reddy, Sakshi, has so far published a series of articles with special jackets on front page leveling “very serious” allegations of land grabbing and purchase of lands in the name of benami (proxies) in the new Capital Regional by the Chief Minister himself, his son and TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh, several of the Cabinet ministers and TDP leaders.
Ever since the first set of stories was published, the TDP leaders, including Chandrababu Naidu, were engrossed in giving story-by-story rebuttals. The party’s attempts to dig a moat around itself to keep its enemies at bay haven’t insulated the TDP from the charges. It is under so much pressure to give a retort that any lacuna in response would prove to be a bombshell.
While its sympathisers suggest that the Government has gained an upper hand over the Opposition in the debates, the naysayers want a CBI inquiry instead of sitting over judgment on who won the game of one-upmanship.
The affront launched by YSR Congress climaxed with serving a no-confidence motion on the Government on Thursday. Of course, there is a strong provocation for the YSR Congress to go for a head-on collision with the ruling party. The TDP, which is gripped by a maudlin sense following the usurping of MLAs by the TRS in Telangana, did the same to its rival, YSRC, in Andhra.
This has portrayed Jagan’s leadership in a poor light, as he could not ensure his MLAs stayed loyal to the party. Seething with anger and helplessness, Jagan devised the counter-offensive of a different form. This, of course, may not yield any tangible benefits to his party that is susceptible to a “magnetic attack” by the TDP.
While the TDP lured eight MLAs and one MLC into it from the YSRC, Naidu had to do a lot of explaining to the staunch party loyalists in those respective constituencies. Leaders like P Ramasubba Reddy and Silpa Mohan Reddy did not mince words in asserting that the party was adding flab and not strength.
The TDP suffered asphyxia with its minister Ravela Kishore Babu’s son Susheel being charged with molestation and remanded to custody in Hyderabad. The feeble defence put up by the minister and the subsequent charge that Jagan was responsible for his son’s arrest made the TDP flock a laughing stock in the eyes of people. The Chief Minister, however, has taken a tough stand and persuaded or instructed the minister to give in to the law of the land.
Close on its heels came the embarrassment in the form of licentious and lewd remarks by actor-son of NTR, N Balakrishna, the brother-in-law of the Chief Minister, at a movie audio release function. The remorse he had expressed couldn’t take it away from becoming the tastiest fodder for the Opposition.
The embattled TDP’s relationship with the BJP, its senior partner in the National Democratic Alliance, has become so much brittle that a large public meeting addressed by BJP president Amit Shah in Rajahmundry last week became an eyesore for the TDP. Shah snubbed the barb of the TDP that the Centre was making meager allocations to the truncated State.
He claimed that the Centre had extended an assistance of Rs 1.40 lakh crore to the State. However, Chandrababu Naidu, isn’t taking it lying down. He wants to give a fitting response on how Shah’s speech was just a jugglery of numbers and not getting translated into reality.
But, with problems galore, will he or won’t he respond to Shah is a million-dollar question.