Rama Krsishna Sangem
TDP chief and former CM Chandrababu Naidu is all set to join the ruling NDA coalition and concede 5 Lok Sabha seats to BJP in Andhra Pradesh in the coming general elections. Naidu left for Delhi on February 7, Wednesday evening for talks with the BJP top brass – Home Minister Amit Shah and party president JP Nadda. Naidu will be in Delhi for another day or two, but a final shape to the talks is expected only in the third week of February.
Till recently, BJP appeared not keen on joining hands with Naidu led TDP in Andhra. But, two factors made the party leadership to rethink their stand. One, already NDA ally, Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan’s constant nudging to form a broad anti-Jagan platform in AP. Two, BJP leadership’s latest strategy to aim for 400 MPs in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
This is unlikely to happen, unless BJP improves its position in the South India. The saffron party is very weak in states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. It has some good base in Karnataka and Telangana, but these two are ruled by Congress governments. So, it is not easy for BJP to retain their last time tally of 29 from the South. The task is more difficult if they want to further improve on that figure.
BJP is not asking for many assembly seats. They will be happy even with 5-6 out of the total 175, but want more of LS seats. Accommodating BJP in his alliance may make Naidu’s job tough – as Jana Sena too wants 3-4 LS seats and around 30 assembly seats. Already, TDP has a long list of aspirants for each of the MP and MLA seats. Naidu will have to do a tight balancing act in seat sharing.
TDP will be an asset to BJP
By forging an alliance with TDP will be a big boost to BJP. Already, TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu has come to an understanding with Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena, to fight together in the coming elections. AP assembly too goes to polls along with that of Lok Sabha. Though Pawan Kalyan is NDA at present, he is ready to quit it in case BJP is not ready to join hands with TDP.
BJP can’t afford to lose Pawan Kalyan at this stage. BJP is a marginal force in AP. Though the party secured some 15 per cent vote share during late PM Vajpayee’s time, later it fell to less than 3 per cent. If the party contests the coming polls, it is likely to lose deposits in most – of the total 25 Lok Sabha and 175 assembly seats and draw a zero. This is a dreadful situation to BJP.
Though AP CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy maintains excellent rapport with PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, he is unlikely to have any tie with BJP. Jagan assures BJP leadership that anyway he will be with the NDA after the polls. That is uncertain or dependent on the post-election scenario. Compared to Jagan’s offer, BJP finds Naidu’s offer more attractive – as he is going to give specific number of LS seats now.
Moreover, BJP knows that being with TDP-Jana Sena, they have good chances of winning the elections as it would avoid split in anti-Jagan votes. Last but not least is Congress party roping in YS Sharmila, Jagan’s sister as its PCC chief. Sharmila is sure to generate some enthusiasm among the voters and secure some seats – if not more. If BJP goes it alone, they will get less votes than Congress in AP. BJP wants to avoid that humiliation.