Andhra Pradesh elections: In run-up to simultaneous Assembly & Lok Sabha polls, YSRCP and TDP in touch with BJP for alliance

In the run-up to the simultaneous Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Andhra Pradesh, both the ruling YSRCP and its rival TDP are in touch with the BJP to explore political alliances, though no concrete announcement has emerged so far. On February 8, TDP supremo and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu met senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah late at night in New Delhi, setting off speculation that they negotiated a possible political alliance. Both parties are yet to announce a tie-up.

A source told PTI that “TDP and BJP are forming an alliance” which could be announced in a few days’ time.

Though TDP was planning to release its list of election candidates by February 10, the source observed that it got delayed due to the alliance talks.

Following Naidu’s meeting, back channel consultations are still going on with the BJP to seal the deal, the source added.

According to Tirunagari Jyoshna, a TDP spokesperson, the list of candidates was likely to be announced by February 20.

Telakapalli Ravi, a political analyst, noted that Naidu was pretty clear when he told a few journalists recently that 80 percent TDP candidates were zeroed in on, which implied that he may accommodate allies only for the rest of the Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies. “…it is clear, he wants to go with BJP and without BJP it is difficult,” he observed. Jyoshna highlighted that TDP and BJP have an impressive legacy of winning elections together.

“Principles-wise we (TDP and BJP) have more or less the same line of thought, that is the reason why we could come in and out of an alliance successfully. We don’t have major differences with the BJP,” said Jyoshna.

TDP is already in partnership with Pawan Kalyan-led Janasena, an NDA ally from the southern state.

Recently, dissident YSRCP MP from Narasapuram Lok Sabha constituency, K Raghu Rama Krishna Raju, told PTI that TDP, BJP and Janasena will form an alliance to ‘trounce’ Chief minister and ruling YSRCP president Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.

Within hours of Naidu culminating his New Delhi visit on February 9, Reddy rushed to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sparking another wave of speculation on a political alignment.

A statement featuring requests for funds for pending initiatives, support for Polavaram Project, special category status and others was circulated later, but gave no hints on political alliances.

“It takes nothing to join a coalition but it takes courage to stand alone. CM Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy is the lone lion against a pack of hyenas. The only alliance YSRCP has is with the people, many of whom have escaped poverty due to the welfare schemes of the state…,” claimed senior YSRCP leader and Rajya Sabha member V Vijayasai Reddy in a post on ‘X’.

Reflecting on the chiefs of TDP and YSRCP looking to align with the BJP, V Anji Reddy, a political analyst and political science professor at Nagarjuna University near Guntur said both Naidu and Reddy have been trying their best to get close to the saffron party over the past four years.

“TDP is much more interested in having an alliance with the BJP so that it could use the power of the Union Government to checkmate Jagan Mohan Reddy at the time of elections to control cash flow, muscle power and even the bureaucratic power of the state government,” said Anji Reddy.

TDP is aware BJP does not have any social or electoral base in AP, yet it is courting the party because it wants to destabilise YSRCP government. However, BJP is a clever political entity which maintains friendly relations with both TDP and YSRCP, he said, adding even if it teams up with TDP during the polls, it would not antagonize the CM.

CM Reddy also released up to three lists of new constituency in-charges, who are being viewed as potential candidates for the elections. This move, however, backfired as some politicians quit YSRCP.

Disgruntled with the reshuffle, Machilipatnam Lok Sabha member Balashowry Vallabhaneni, Narasaraopeta MP L Sri Krishna Deva Rayalu and Mangalagiri MLA A Ramakrishna Reddy quit YSRCP.

Balashowry joined Janasena while Reddy moved into Congress.

Meanwhile, in further spicing up of the political scene, the Congress party appointed Y S Sharmila its Andhra Pradesh chief, replacing G Rudra Raju to cash in on her ‘image’ and the legacy of former CM Y S Rajasekhar Reddy.

Rudra Raju noted Sharmila shares the dream of her late father, Rajasekhar Reddy, to see Rahul Gandhi become the Prime Minister.

“Her leadership is a value addition. Definitely there is hope for Congress. Rajasekhar had Congress ideology and there is a lot of relationship between Gandhi-Nehru family, Congress ideology and Rajasekhar Reddy’s ideology,” he said.

Sharmila has emerged as an added thorn in the flesh of Jagan Mohan Reddy. Immediately after swearing in as the APCC chief, she launched a scathing attack on the chief minister, who happens to be her elder brother.

Sharmila, who played a pivotal role in building YSRCP when Reddy was in doldrums over a decade ago, has embarked on a campaign across AP, leaving no stone unturned to attack her sibling’s government.

“Jagan anna’s fans are praising him that he is like a tiger and lion but what happened. He is a tiger or lion to whom? Let him take a swipe at BJP or roar at it if he has guts…he could not achieve Polavaram Project, special status or a capital city,” she said at a recent public meeting in Eluru district.

Amidst mounting attack from TDP, Janasena, Congress and BJP against him, the YSRCP chief is making his own astute moves.

He announced to recruit 6,100 government teachers just a few months before the polls and and has been addressing his party cadres and supporters through Siddham (ready) meetings.

He is also banking on the elaborate welfare schemes and programmes of the past five years of his government, which amounted up to Rs 4.21 lakh crore, including Rs 2.53 lakh crore direct benefit transfer schemes.

Confident of his investments in education and healthcare, he coined the slogan ‘why not 175’, a reference to winning all the Assembly seats.

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