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INDIA Reaches Out To Naidu's TDP

September 15, 2023 08:22 IST

The BJP senior leadership believes the YSRCP is a more reliable potential ally post-2024 Lok Sabha election than the TDP.

IMAGE: Telugu Desam Party President Nara Chandrababu Naidu addresses a public meeting as part of the TDP's Bhavishyat ki Guarantee campaign programme in Anantapur on September 7, 2023, just prior to his arrest. Photograph: ANI Photo

The Opposition bloc INDIA has reached out to the Telugu Desam Party leadership, days after the arrest of its chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu in an alleged corruption case.

The outreach, led by the Trinamool Congress, comes after the Bharatiya Janata Party ignored pleas by ally Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena Party to enter into an alliance with the TDP for the 2024 Andhra assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

In the last four years, the TDP's principal rival in Andhra, the state's ruling YSR Congress Party, has supported the central government in Parliament on crucial bills.

The TMC, a leading constituent of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, or INDIA, contacted the TDP leadership since Naidu's arrest.

A local court in Vijayawada remanded Naidu in judicial custody for 14 days on Sunday, September 10, 2023, for his alleged role in the Skill Development Corporation scam.

On Tuesday, September 12, a local court rejected a house custody petition filed by Naidu.

The Samajwadi Party, the National Conference's Dr Farooq Abdullah and a Congress leader in Andhra have criticised Naidu's arrest, alleging that the Centre had the foreknowledge of the former Andhra chief minister's arrest.

Sukhbir Singh Badal, the head of the Shiromani Akali Dal, a former ally of the BJP, termed the arrest a 'crude vendetta exercise'.

"We are in touch with the TDP and have been told that the arrest has evoked sympathy for the former Andhra chief minister, particularly in rural areas," a senior Trinamool leader said.

IMAGE: Naidu's wife Nara Bhuvaneshwari, flanked by son Nara Lokesh and daughter-in-law Nara Brahmani, speaks to the media after meeting him in Vijayawada jail, September 12, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

Sources, however, said it was premature to discuss the TDP's entry into the Opposition alliance at the next INDIA meeting, which is likely to be held in Bhopal, in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh.

On Monday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee criticised Naidu's arrest, terming it vindictive politics that would backfire on the ruling party, drawing parallels with Naidu's arrest and the Enforcement Directorate summoning her nephew, TMC General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee.

On Tuesday, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav echoed Banerjee's sentiments, saying, 'BJP and its opportunist friends' should remember that such political behaviour could return to haunt them.

From the BJP, state unit chief Daggubati Purandeswari, whose sister Bhuvaneshwari is married to Naidu, protested Naidu's arrest in a post on X on Saturday.

'The arrest sans a proper notice, without his name mentioned in the FIR, without seeking an explanation and bypassing procedures is unjustified. The BJP condemns this,' Purandeswari said.

The BJP state unit stayed away from Monday's state-wide bandh called by the TDP called to protest Naidu's arrest, while the Jana Sena, supported the bandh.

The BJP senior leadership believed the YSRCP remained popular in Andhra and was a more reliable potential ally post-2024 Lok Sabha election than the TDP.

The TDP exited the NDA in March 2018 on the question of a special package to Andhra and fought the 2019 elections in alliance with the Congress.

The Centre sanctioned Rs 10,460 crore (Rs 104.60 billion) in May, the highest for Andhra Pradesh since the bifurcation. In June, it released Rs 12,911 crore (Rs 129.11 billion) for the Polavaram project.

Over the last few months, the TDP's attempts to mend fences with the BJP and return to the National Democratic Alliance have failed despite Jana Sena's efforts.

Naidu met Union Home Minister Amit A Shah in June, but the TDP didn't find a spot in the 38-party NDA meeting on July 18.

Archis Mohan in New Delhi
Source: source image