Hyderabad: In a development that marks a tectonic power shift in Andhra Pradesh politics, Telugu Desam (TD) chief and former three-term chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has decided to merge his floundering party with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), bringing to an end the saga of a regional entity that had seen a meteoric rise in the country.
TD leaders reportedly felt the party has lost its verve and there is little hope of reinvigorating the party within the next three years and wrest power from the YSRC in the next Assembly polls.
Losing people’s support and being deserted by leaders and cadre across all districts and regions of the state, Naidu decided it was time to change the game itself.
Taking a leaf out of the book of Tollywood megastar K. Chiranjeevi, who merged his Praja Rajyam with the Congress, after being routed in the 2009 elections, a besieged and heart-broken Naidu sent feelers to the BJP top brass. It could not be independently confirmed if any of the former TD Rajya Sabha MPs who joined the BJP acted as facilitators.
After some deliberations, the saffron party decidedly made a tough offer, given the misapprehensions about Naidu’s flip-flops among many BJP leaders.
As per the agreement, sources close to the development said Naidu will merge his party with the BJP unconditionally and move to Central politics soon. Though the TD’s precondition of rewarding Naidu with a key post in the Union Cabinet was turned down, he may soon be made a Cabinet-rank minister. The BJP also did not make any promises regarding the political future of Nara Lokesh, who is currently an MLC and the TD party’s national general secretary.
Despite the lukewarm response he got from the BJP top brass, Naidu decided it was time to go ahead and surrender the party, founded by the Telugu cinema and cultural idol and father-in-law N.T. Rama Rao, to the saffron behemoth. The merger will take effect within a month.
The BJP hopes to utilise Naidu’s strategic acumen and understanding of Telugu politics to strengthen itself in both the states – Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring Telangana.
The move will also mark the end of the bonhomie between the BJP and the ruling YSRC, besides sharpening the rivalry between the BJP and the TRS.
When asked for comments, a senior TD leader said, “The future seemed bleak for us in the TD. We did not see any other option left”.
A senior BJP leader, while welcoming the TD move, advised caution, saying people must react only after checking the date.
A political analyst said, “Readers must carefully look at today’s date. They would realise the right conclusion to come to is April Fool’s Day.”