Naidu, Shah meet triggers speculation of electoral alliance

Hyderabad: In a significant political development, the Bharatiya Janata Party central leadership for the first time granted audience to Telugu Desam president and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu after he severed ties with it in 2019.

Naidu met Union home minister Amit Shah at the latter's residence in New Delhi on Saturday, triggering speculation over a possible electoral alliance between the two parties not just in Andhra Pradesh but in Telangana as well.

While the two sides said that they did discuss politics, the YSR Congress sought to put up a brave face in the context of its decision to always go it alone in the polls and its indifference to electoral alliances between Opposition parties.

Saturday's development clearly indicated the BJP's approach to keep both parties in good humour, which, undoubtedly, was a deviation from the anti-Naidu stance it had adopted after his "unwarranted" attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and joining hands with the Congress in the 2018 Telangana polls.
The BJP also attached significance to Saturday’s meeting by involving party president J.P. Nadda in the lengthy deliberations. The BJP’s partner on paper, Jana Sena, has been pushing for the tripartite understanding.

Ironically, the TD read Shah’s willingness to meet Naidu as a sign of the YSR Congress weakening in AP. The YSRC, as a senior minister put it, cautioned the saffron brigade that any decision to ally with Naidu would be seen as the support base for Modi weakening and the BJP striking compromises to make up for it.

Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy, government adviser (public affairs), demanded that Naidu owed an explanation on the meeting since he had dubbed Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s earlier meetings with Shah and Modi as efforts to wriggle out of CBI cases. “Naidu should explain which cases he wants to escape,” Ramakrishna Reddy told Deccan Chronicle.

Sources said that besides the TD, a section of BJP leaders from Telangana had been actively propagating reports of an alliance that they believe would help in winning a considerable number of seats in the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority limits in view of presence of voters from Andhra region.
The BJP had won five Assembly seats and one in the Lok Sabha in alliance with the TD in 2014. "Leaders aspiring for tickets in the HMDA limits are fine with the alliance, while there would be stiff resistance from leaders outside," a senior BJP vice-president said.

TD sources claimed that BJP senior leader Dr K. Laxman had conveyed Naidu's request for a meeting to the BJP central leadership. “We have been trying to restore the party here in the recent past and portrayal as Andhra party is no longer valid after the TRS’ transformation into the BRS,” a senior TD leader from Telangana said.

“Our state president Kasani Gyaneshwar will soon take up a bus yatra,” he said adding, “It is not clear whether there will be a firm alliance in Telangana or a tacit understanding. Both options can be explored.”

In AP, TD leaders claimed that Naidu wanted the BJP to remain neutral and rein in the YSR Congress’ aggressive approach to the elections by deploying more Central forces. Sources said the Centre’s cold response to YSR Congress’ efforts to get Central agencies like the CBI and the ED to initiate direct action against Naidu had also encouraged the TD chief take forward his proposal.

Intermediaries like Narsapur MP K. Raghu Rama Krishna Raju were said to have been tom-tomming that TD and BJP would fight in 10 Lok Sabha seats each and the Jana Sena would be given the remaining five.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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