Does the yellow wave during Chandrababu Naidu’s visit foretell TDP’s return to strength in Telangana?

Following Chandrababu Naidu’s victory, the winds of change that swept across Andhra Pradesh seem to have wafted into Telangana as well.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jul 09, 2024 | 7:00 PM Updated Jul 09, 2024 | 7:00 PM

N Chandrababu Naidu

Yellow became the new black in Telangana when the TDP national president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister visited the state recently.

The yellow wave was brief but politically significant as Naidu — now standing tall after decimating the YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh polls — returned to his once familiar ground.

The change has been perceptible after the TDP’s resounding win. The winds of change that swept across Andhra Pradesh seem to have wafted into Telangana as well.

Telangana, too, has changed. The BRS, inimical to TDP, has been replaced by A Revanth Reddy-led Congress government. Reddy has been friendly with Naidu, though both belong to rival political camps.

Emboldened by the Andhra win, Naidu tested the Telangana waters — albeit gingerly — on Sunday, 7 July. He led a rally from his residence to NTR Trust Bhavan in Jubilee Hills.

The rally was one of hope and conviction for a better future, the emergence of the TDP from political darkness during which it did not even contest the polls. The party workers sensed the changing tide.

They painted the town yellow, the TDP’s colour, with banners and festoons welcoming Naidu to Hyderabad — and yellow became the new black.

Also Read: Andhra, Telangana agree on three-tier approach to address bifurcation issues

BRS’s loss, TDP’s gain?

With K Chandrashekar Rao of the BRS being sidelined to the fringes after losing the Assembly elections and facing a disaster of mammoth proportions in the Lok Sabha polls, the TDP sees the main obstacle for its growth in Telangana is out of the way.

Since the BRS has played the Telangana sentiment card repeatedly, it seems to have lost its edge. The people were looking for something new but the BRS failed in finding an emotive issue as powerful as Telangana sentiment to polarise people.

The Congress has preyed on the anti-incumbency factor and used its “secular” credentials to return to power while the BJP found fertile grounds in several pockets in Telangana. Its Hindutva ideology is yet to be tried in full measure in Telangana though it too is losing its cutting edge in the north.

Naidu, after leading the rally to the NTR Trust Bhavan on Sunday, dwelt at length on Telangana and tried to flog to life his two-eye analogy that both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are like his two eyes.

It was a slogan, that the BRS had made fun of in the heady days of the Telangana movement, but Naidu chose to resurrect it.

He asserted that Hyderabad developed on the foundations he had laid and that the people still had a connection with the TDP. Naidu hoped that it was enough to take the party forward in Telangana in the new ecosystem, devoid of any more hatred or rancour.

Naidu even promised the party workers in Telangana that he would sit with them and chalk out a programme.

Also Read: TDP will regain past glory in Telangana soon, says Chandrababu Naidu

Aftermath of arrest in skill scam

His influence permeated Telangana after his arrest in Andhra Pradesh in September last by the then YSRCP government for his “alleged” role in the skill development scam when he was the chief minister between 2015 and 2019.

The TDP workers and sympathisers held a gratitude meeting at GMC Balayogi Stadium at Gachibolwi in Hyderabad, which Naidu acknowledged while speaking at the NTR Trust Bhavan on Sunday. He said he was aware of the support that the TDP sympathisers in Telangana had lent for the victory of the party in AP.

Even in the face of euphoria over the creation of Telangana state in 2014, the TDP won 15 seats, claiming a vote share of 12.61 percent. Of the 15 seats, 10 were from Rangareddy (7) and Hyderabad (3). But when it came to the 2018 elections, the number went down to two seats in Khammam district.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao —  as he got only 63 of 119 seats in 2014 —  engineered the merger of 12 of the 15 TDP legislators into the BRS as they constituted more than two-thirds of the total strength of the party in the Assembly, leaving three MLAs – A Revanth Reddy, Sandra Venkata Veeraiah and R Krishnaiah.

In the 2018 elections, the TDP’s score went down to two: Mecha Nageswara Rao and Sandra Venkata Veeraiah, who too joined the BRS later, after giving a letter to the Speaker that they were merging the TDLP with the BRS.

The TDP, which gradually vanished from Telangana under the constant pounding by KCR since the formation of Telangana state, is now looking forward to returning with a vengeance.

Also Read: TDP opts out of Lok Sabha race from Telangana

The population factor

As Hyderabad abounds in the population of Andhraites, the TDP appears to have decided to obtain a toehold in Telangana by contesting the GHMCC elections due next year. Joining hands with the BJP and the Jana Sena, the TDP might try to repeat the AP experiment in GHMC and after watching the result, fan out to the entire state.

Probably with this aim in mind, Naidu is trying to project himself as the messiah of Telangana once again. He says he is keen on the resolution of the bifurcation issues. If he makes headway, it would have a double impact: His stock would go further up in AP, and in Telangana, the people would not consider him an enemy as the BRS had projected him in the past.

“If Chandrababu Naidu accommodates Telangana’s requests like allowing the state to use the ports in Andhra and settles the issues of division of assets, people in Telangana may not look at him suspiciously,” political commentator and senior journalist S Nagesh Kumar said.

“He made a good beginning by proposing a meeting with the Telangana chief minister, who too responded positively. If this camaraderie translates into benefits for both states, Naidu will gain in Telangana,” he opined.

He cites the resolution of the issue concerning AP Bhavan in Delhi. The two states without raising any objection consented to the division of land and properties as proposed by the Union Home Ministry.

Also Read: How NRIs aided TDP campaign with men and material for Andhra polls

Fair share

The Home Ministry issued orders on March 15, allocating 8.24 acres to Telangana and 11.536 acres to Andhra Pradesh by the A.P. Reorganization Act, 2014.

Also, three acres at Sabari Block and 5.2 acres at Pataudi House will go to Telangana while AP will get Godavari Block and Swarna Mukhi Block spread over 5.7 acres. In addition to these allocations, 3.3 acres in Nursing Hostel and 2.4 acres in Pataudi House will go to Telangana.

But many are skeptical of a Naidu comeback in Telangana. The percentage of votes he got was about 12.61 in 2014 and there is doubt if the same vote share still exists, going by the massive mandate that the BRS got in the GHMC area in the recent Assembly elections.

In 2018, the TDP’s vote percentage went down to 3.51 percent, and in 2023 it did not contest the elections at all.

“I do not think Chandrababu Naidu has any future in Telangana. Remember, enthused by the large turnout in Khammam for his meeting ahead of the last Assembly elections in Telangana, he appealed to the TDP leaders who joined other parties to return to the TDP fold. How many did come back,” senior journalist and commentator Budha Murali asked.

He said he was suspecting an attempt to kill the soul of Telangana. “After Revanth Reddy came to power, the atmosphere has changed. He is now extolling the virtues of late YS Rajasekhar Reddy who was a staunch integrationist. The chief minister inaugurates a photo exhibition of Rajasekhar Reddy at Praja Bhavan on the occasion of the latter’s birth anniversary,” he said.

He believed that the BRS was still strong and continues to represent the Telangana sentiment.

“MLAs and MLCs may leave but the activists will stick on with the party as they have no other interests. Those who leave the party are joining the Congress to escape from probes into their ill-gotten wealth. They have no commitment to Telangana ideology or attachment to the party leadership. All of them considered politics as dhandha and now they are trying to protect the proceeds from their dhandha,” he said.

(Edited by Majnu Babu)

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