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  Opinion   Edit  10 Mar 2024  AA Edit | Naidu returns to NDA to fight ‘invincible’ Jagan

AA Edit | Naidu returns to NDA to fight ‘invincible’ Jagan

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Mar 11, 2024, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Mar 11, 2024, 12:00 am IST

TDP's strategic move alters state dynamics. Can the new alliance challenge the reigning party's dominance?

N. Chandrababu Naidu, a three-time CM, was instrumental in stopping the BJP from coming to power in 1996. (File Image: PTI)
 N. Chandrababu Naidu, a three-time CM, was instrumental in stopping the BJP from coming to power in 1996. (File Image: PTI)

Even as the incumbent chief minister of Andhra Pradesh continues his “Siddham” (prepared) campaign across the state seeking all 175 Assembly constituencies, upping the mood and morale of his leaders and cadre, and exuding an aura of almost-invincibility, the Opposition is closing in ranks. After protracted attempts to get a go-ahead from the BJP, the Telugu Desam just succeeded in entering the NDA alliance a third time.

Interestingly, the third party in this alliance, the Jana Sena Party (JSP) led by Tollywood “powerstar” K. Pawan Kalyan who is younger brother of megastar Chiranjeevi, is already an alliance partner of the BJP in Telangana and the TDP in Andhra Pradesh, separately.

N. Chandrababu Naidu, a three-time CM, was instrumental in stopping the BJP from coming to power in 1996. He then went on to enable alliance governments headed by H.D. Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral, which could not complete a term. Following this, he joined the NDA as one of the biggest partners and enabled Atal Behari Vajpayee to become Prime Minister twice.

After the BJP lost power at the Centre in 2004, he quit the NDA. He again joined the NDA ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and the trio of BJP, TDP and Pawan Kalyan won the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls in Andhra Pradesh. But before completing the term, he again quit the alliance and joined the Congress-led UPA, opposing Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of 2019. His party was trounced by Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party.

After facing an existential crisis for the last five years, Mr Naidu has been working hard to win the favour of the Modi-Amit Shah duo for over a year now and his efforts have borne fruit. He must have been certain that he would not be able to fight Mr Reddy alone. It is not clear how much of an impact the alliance would have in Andhra Pradesh or the results that they would be able to get in the coming Assembly election, but it does give Mr Naidu a better chance.

Mr Naidu, who called the alliance with the BJP a “win-win situation” in Andhra Pradesh and India, however, was not given an audience with the PM whom he had once famously abused while out of the NDA. He was allowed only a picture with Mr Shah and BJP national president J. P. Nadda, besides releasing a joint official statement of the three parties to fight elections together.

The alliance, besides facing a formidable YSRCP and popular leader in Mr Reddy, also faces internal contradictions and social engineering challenges. Even as informal sources indicated that the TDP would get only 17 seats out of 25 Lok Sabha seats, with the BJP fighting six and JSP two seats, there are already several disgruntled elements not afraid to raise the banner of revolt.

The alliance hopes the leadership of Mr Modi will give the edge it requires to challenge Mr Reddy, and Mr Naidu, who has never come to power or won an election fighting alone, hopes to get lucky yet again.

Tags: tdp, nda alliance, jana sena party