Is patience paying former AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu the dividends he has been waiting for? Will he succeed in winning over Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his side once again? Can he get Modi’s nod for an electoral allaince in Telangana as well as in Andhra Pradesh? If the PM wishes he can keep Naidu cornered or make him occupy the centre stage. Naidu has been ready to play the ball. Modi, who kept Naidu away from Delhi for almost four years since 2018 when the latter rebelled against the former, had invited him to attend Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav in Delhi on Saturday. Naidu, who vigorously campaigned against Modi and the BJP in 2018 and 2019 elections in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and shared dais with opposition leaders across the country, had lost the election miserably. He got 23 Assembly seats out of 175 and three Lok Sabha seats out of 25. Since then, he has been maintaining a low profile supporting NDA on all important issues unconditionally. He has been patiently waiting for Modi to forget the past and invite him to Delhi. The long wait had ended last week when he received invitation to attend a meeting at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Saturday evening where Modi met Naidu and inquired about his well being. What prompted Modi to invite Naidu to Delhi?
BJP keen on TS
It is a fact that the BJP is very keen on capturing power in Telangana State in 2023 elections. “Mission Telangana” has been very much in the works. The BJP has been leaving no stone unturned towards achieving its goal. It has been selectively enticing leaders like Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy and Dasoju Shravan Kumar from the Congress. Rajgopal Reddy’s elder brother Venkata Reddy had already met Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Etala Rajendra, Huzurabad MLA who is in charge of ‘Operation Lotus,’ said there are many more important leaders from the Congress and the TRS who will be joining the BJP.
Naidu’s clever move
In the meanwhile, Naidu cleverly started making overtures to indicate to the BJP leadership that he is also a force to reckon with in Telangana. The TDP had won only three seats in 2018 elections and all the three MLAs had joined the TRS. But the TDP has considerable votes in Khammam, Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy and Mahabubnagar districts. BJP leadership must have calculated that if it grabs the extended hand of TDP’s friendship, it will make a difference in at least 25 constituencies in Telangana. Otherwise, the TDP would continue to be inactive and its votes would have gone to the TRS as they did in 2018. It would be an act of vengeance on the part of Naidu if he can patch up with the BJP in Telangana and help the saffron party defeat the ruling party. He cannot forget the fact that Jagan Mohan Reddy was encouraged by K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Telangana chief minister, by all means in defeating Naidu in 2019. It was mainly because Naidu had joined hands with the Congress and worked against the TRS in 2018 elections. One led to the other.
Forging alliance with BJP for third time
If the TDP succeeds in forging alliance with the BJP for the third time, it can easily extend it to the AP where with an alliance with BJP and Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena, the TDP can hope to beat YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRCP in 2024 elections. Without the BJP, it will be difficult for Pawan Kalyan to join hands with the TDP about which he is very particular. Things would be easy and mutually beneficial for all the three parties if they join hands and form an alliance like they did in 2014. It will be win-win for the TDP and the BJP. By contesting alone, the BJP cannot hope to win more than handful of seats. In alliance with the TDP and Jana Sena, the saffron party can hope to bargain for more seats to contest and even win a respectable number of seats. Same is the case with the TDP. Alone it cannot win. Together with the Jana Sena it can try not sure of winning. In alliance with the BJP and Jana Sena, the TDP can hope to beat YSRCP.
BJP had different plan for AP
So far the reading was that the BJP would wait for some more years for the TDP to wither away and then occupy its space. It was reportedly thinking of contesting the forthcoming elections in alliance with the Jana Sena and allow YSRCP win this time too and aspire to clinch power in 2029. Since Modi was angry with Naidu, he was kind to Jagan Mohan Reddy. Nothing is permanent in politics. Only interests would decide the choices. If having an alliance with the TDP would help the BJP and hurt the TRS in Telangana while also helping to get some seats in AP in 2024, Modi would be a game. Why not? YSRCP is not ready for an alliance with the BJP because of its fear of losing minority votes. Naidu has no such fear. He has nothing to lose. Modi is not a politician who would generally forget or forgive. But exceptions can always be made when political interests dictate the options. In the process, the interests of Jagan Mohan Reddy and his YSRCP might be affected. So be it. For Modi, BJP’s interests are paramount. One brief meeting between Modi and Naidu may not get them into an alliance right away. But it is a move in right direction as far as the TDP and BJP are concerned. It suits Pawan Kalyan eminently.