Chandrababu Naidu blitz boomerangs, clouds role on national stage
When KCR surprised everyone by dissolving the assembly and simultaneously announcing TRS candidates for 105 of 119 constituencies, opposition parties were merely talking of coming together.
The outright rejection of the TDP-Congress alliance by the electorate virtually destroyed Naidu’s dream of showcasing his Telangana template as the 2019 blueprint at the national level. The drubbing not only rang the death knell of TDP in Telangana, but also queered the pitch for his party in home state Andhra Pradesh, where he’s seeking re-election next year with Congress as an ally.
While the mammoth TRS victory is being attributed to KCR’s charisma and his welfare schemes, many equally credit the “pink wave” to the Naidu effect. His twin forays into Hyderabad and his massive campaign for prajakutami candidates gave the impression that the alliance was a force to reckon with. But Naidu’s overarching presence in the camp consolidated the Telangana statehood sentiment, analysts said.
When KCR surprised everyone by dissolving the assembly and simultaneously announcing TRS candidates for 105 of 119 constituencies, opposition parties were merely talking of coming together. Seat-sharing talks between TDP, Congress, TJS and CPI dragged on for several weeks.
What gave impetus to the grand alliance was Naidu flying down to Delhi from Amaravati and forging an alliance with Rahul Gandhi. As it turned out, Naidu overexposed himself in the state, bringing back bitter memories of Telangana’s struggle for separate statehood, which the TDP boss had opposed.
“Tying up with Congress was a big gamble by Naidu. If it succeeded, Naidu’s stature would have risen on the national political spectrum and he could have played a key role in bringing together SP, BSP and Trinamool into the Congress-TDP alliance. But after the Telangana rout and Congress victories in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, it’s Rahul Gandhi who can take the lead in forming the non-BJP alliance. Naidu can only play second fiddle,” said TDP sources.
The outcome also puts a question mark on the future of the TDP in the state. Its vote share dropped from 14.7% in 2014 to 3.1% in 2018. And the TDP vote too did not get transferred to Congress and other partners. The big increase in the TRS vote share indicates most of TDP’s votes went it.
“Telangana TDP is virtually finished now. The few leaders left will migrate to other parties and KCR and his son will ensure that the party is wiped out here,” a TDP source said.