TDP-BJP has the edge, but all Telugu parties will need Delhi after polls

The BJP-TDP alliance has gained the upper hand in Seemandhra. But the BJP is in the happy position of choosing from among the other Telugu parties even if this alliance loses.

R Jagannathan April 07, 2014 18:31:11 IST
TDP-BJP has the edge, but all Telugu parties will need Delhi after polls

Will Andhra Pradesh play a crucial role in the next Lok Sabha, as it did in 2004 and 2009? In 2004, the Congress victory in undivided Andhra brought it to power in Delhi. In 2009, when it repeated this feat, it consolidated its power. Andhra Pradesh contributed the largest chunk to the Congress.

This time, the Congress has had to divide the state in order to win at least a few seats in Telangana, but the game is now wide open, thanks to the BJP-Telugu Desam tieup.

TDPBJP has the edge but all Telugu parties will need Delhi after polls

TDP flags. Image used for representational purposes. AFP

Under the deal announced yesterday (6 April), the BJP will fight eight Lok Sabha seats in Telangana and five in Seemandhra, while TDP will fight 11 and 20 respectively. The announcement led to immediate heartburn in both parties – which suggests that the alliance will be beneficial to both. People fight over seats only if they think they have a chance to win – and if both parties think they will win, it means they are strong enough to fight together to improve their positions. The only issue is whether they have the chemistry to fight together and gain.

The Lokniti-CSDS-CNN-IBN Tracker poll, which assessed voter intentions before the alliance was announced, showed a rising trend for TDP both in Telangana and Seemandhra, while the BJP held steady in Telangana and appeared to be rising in Seemandhra.

The TDP vote share was up from 11 percent to 13 percent in Telangana, and from 33 percent to 39 percent in Seemandhra between February and March, while the BJP vote was at 10 percent in the former and 7 percent in Seemandhra.

What this means is, if the two votes are added, the TDP-BJP alliance will sweep Seemandhra (with YSR Congress losing steam rapidly), and offer a stiffer challenge to the Congress and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), with 34-35 percent each.

But electoral arithmetic is not always a straight addition of two parties’ votes. The question is whether the BJP’s entry into an alliance with TDP will drive away Muslim votes and instead attract a larger share of the majority vote.

Andhra Pradesh’s 9.2 percent Muslim vote is concentrated in Telangana – which constitutes the old Nizam’s territory. A good chunk of this Muslim vote always goes to the Majlis Ittehadul-Muslimeen in Hyderabad. The BJP has some clout in the twin-cities, too. The TDP will thus not have to worry about votes it never got anyway.

Broadly speaking, it appears that we have two three-horse races in the two post-split units. While the Seemandhra race will be led by TDP-BJP, the main opposition will come from YSR Congress, which will probably take the minority vote.

In Telangana, the TDP-BJP alliance is the third force, with BJP having a stronger connect due to its long-term espousal of the Telangana cause, but TDP has the better organisation. If they combine well, Telangana could see an interesting verdict.

From the looks of it, the two units of former Andhra will deliver a split verdict. But the chances are the NDA, assuming it comes to power, will be agnostic about taking in the other Telugu parties if it needs the numbers.

Both the TRS and YSR Congress – assuming they make gains – will be keen on having some leverage at the centre.

Andhra will be part of the NDA regardless of how TDP-BJP alliance fares. The BJP is in the happy position to choose its allies even after the elections. Post-polls, both Telangana and Seemandhra will seek the centre's indulgence - and this means the NDA wins no matter who wins in Andhra.

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