Cong-TDP facing existential crisis in Telangana
As Telangana heads for Lok Sabha elections on April 11, one stark feature that emerges is how much the political stock of the Congress and the TDP has taken a beating. Once dominant parties in the state, the Congress and the TDP have seen their political fortunes on the downswing in Telangana with the latter not even fielding candidates this time.
The Congress is facing a crisis of sorts in Telangana with as many as 10 of its MLAs among the total 19 announcing their decision to leave the party and join the ruling TRS during the past one month. Several other key leaders, including former MLAs, have also joined the TRS. The Congress and the TDP had formed an alliance for the assembly elections held in December but ended up with 19 and two seats respectively in the 119-member house. The TRS bagged 88 seats.
While the TDP chose not to field candidates in the Lok Sabha polls in Telangana, the Congress is going it alone. Senior Congress leader and former MLA Marri Shashidhar Reddy said he is not worried about the party’s future in Telangana. He said the Congress did well in the panchayat elections and hoped that it would fare better in the Lok Sabha polls. “The Congress high command will definitely take stock of the situation and take necessary steps to strengthen the party,” he told.
Defection woes for TDP
On Congress MLAs leaving the party, Reddy, a former vice-chairman of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), said there is a need for a re-look at the anti-defection law. There are lot of loose ends in the law as the presiding officers of legislatures acted in a way that suited the ruling party, he said. The TDP said it needs to strengthen itself organisationally as it has cadred and well-wishers in the state.
According to TDP politburo member Ravula Chandrasekhar Reddy, the party has strategically chosen not to contest the Lok Sabha elections in Telangana. A poor performance in the Lok Sabha polls would have an adverse impact on the party for the coming local body polls, he said. “We are confident that our party would win in Andhra Pradesh and our say would increase in Delhi. The BJP would lose at the national level. We feel we can strengthen ourselves in Telangana on that basis,” he said. He said defections hurt his party in a big way, adding 13 of 15 TDP MLAs had left the party during 2014 to 2018. He termed the anti-defection law as toothless in its present form and suggested that a member should cease to be so, the moment he resigns from the party on whose ticket he is elected.
TDP – pro-Andhra, anti-Telangana?
TDP had an alliance with the BJP for the 2014 elections and the latter unilaterally decided to end the alliance, Ravula Reddy said. Though TDP had contested only 13 seats in 2018 (in alliance with Congress), it won two seats and stood second in almost all the constituencies, he said. He also claimed there was a massive negative campaign against the TDP during the statehood agitation.
“The (TDP) leaders who are supposed to condemn such campaign and send the correct version to people have switched parties,” he said. The TRS had systematically targeted the TDP (that it is pro-Andhra and anti-Telangana), he claimed. Political analyst Telakapalli Ravi claimed the Congress would not go down like the TDP in Telangana though it has suffered setbacks. The internal differences among party leaders and lack of proper direction from high command are among the reasons for the poor show of Congress, he said. The party had made strategic mistakes like playing second fiddle to TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao during separate Telangana agitation and failing to take him along with it (with the formation of separate state), Ravi said. “The survival also depends on how it would do at the national level. Still, it will not go down like TDP,” he argued.
Like in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal where YSR Congress and Trinamool were formed by party leaders, Congress in Telangana does not face such a threat, he said. Talking about the TDP, he said regional parties in the country are more or less confined to a single state. The TDP is in power in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. Though the TDP won 15 seats in the assembly polls in 2014, it could not build on it, he said. The party lost grip with the alleged cash-for-vote scandal which also led to the exit of its chief N Chandrababu Naidu (from Telangana), he claimed.