Chandrababu Naidu's latest announcement that the Telugu Desam Party would be a part of the just-conceived "Federal Front", on Thursday took senior party leaders by surprise as it currently maintains a cordial relationship with the Left.
"Hundred per cent…we will join the Federal Front," the TDP chief told a English news channel in Hyderabad.
"The United Progressive Alliance has the lost mandate and the Congress is becoming weak. The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance is also not gaining. The regional parties are emerging stronger. It will be the regional parties that will play a dominant role in the next general elections," Naidu said.
"All parties, particularly the regional parties, have a responsibility to see that a third alternative to the UPA and the BJP is formed. So, we will definitely be part of the Federal Front," the former chief minister asserted.
He recalled that the TDP played a key role in formation of three out of four non-Congress governments at the Centre.
"We will again play a crucial role in 2014," he added. Naidu's announcement has however, left senior leaders of the Telugu Desam in dismay. A politburo member of the TDP said none approached them so far with the idea of Federal Front.
"Its not even a day since the so-called Federal Front's name cropped up and there was no discussion about it in our party," he pointed out.
"We are always supportive of the idea of a 'Third Front' that comprises the Left since we are long-time allies. Given that the 'Federal Front' is a supposed brainchild of Mamata Banerjee, a sworn enemy of the Left, we may not actually fit in unless we severe ties with the Left parties," the politburo member noted.
The TDP leaders are now waiting for the Left parties' reaction to Naidu's announcement. For long, the Communist Party on India and the CPM have been friends of TDP in Andhra Pradesh.
The Left parted ways with TDP in 1998 after the latter inched closer to the BJP and extended outside support to the NDA government in 1999.
In 2004, the Left forged an alliance with the Congress to defeat the TDP. But again in 2007, the CPI and the CPM again came under the TDP umbrella. Of late, however, the CPM distanced itself from the TDP in the state though Chandrababu continued to maintain good relations with its leaders at the national level.
With CPI senior leader A B Bardhan trashing the "Federal Front" idea, it remains to be seen whether the party will continue its camaraderie with the struggling TDP in Andhra Pradesh.