The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has salvaged its pre-poll alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh despite its leader, Chandrababu Naidu's last-minute tantrums. A face-saving compromise was worked out following a 10-hour negotiation between BJP's Prakash Javadekar and TDP's YS Chowdhary.
The BJP has held on to 13 Assembly and four Parliamentary seats in Seemandhra. It has surrendered the Ichapuram Assembly seat to the TDP in exchange for 2 MLC seats post-election. The TDP was seeking five Assembly seats. The BJP has also offered to change the assembly candidates in Rajahmundry (urban) Narasaraopeta and Guntakal assembly segments over TDP's complaint that its current "weak candidates" will foil the TDP candidates' chances for the Parliamentary seats.
The two parties had announced an alliance for the assembly and parliamentary elections after tough negotiations just a few weeks ago. But on Thursday, Naidu announced it would pull out from the alliance over the latter's "weak candidates," dragging the BJP leadership back to the negotiating table. Although the two parties have again agreed to work together, there is much heartburn on both sides. Naidu has expressed his anguish over top BJP leaders like Rajnath Singh dashing to Chennai to seal a deal with regional parties in Tamil Nadu while he has had to deal with juniors like Jawadekar and his RSS team from Bangalore.
"Why should Naidu be so sour? He has been talking to Narendra Modi directly," said a BJP negotiator, pooh-poohing the TDP chief's grouse.
Jawadekar and Chowdhary were locked in non-stop negotiations since Thursday night, taking just a five-hour interval to sleep and eat before thrashing out a compromise. The two then visited Naidu's Jubilee Hills home on Friday afternoon to announce the new agreement. Naidu sat smugly while the BJP leaders announced the deal and the final numbers. "Such disturbances are not uncommon in poll alliances during such crucial elections," said Jawadekar in a lighter vein.
Naidu is miffed with the BJP for fielding his estranged sister-in-law, D. Purandeswari, for Lok Sabha from Rajampet. Purandeswari quit the Congress last week and joined the BJP but was not given a ticket from Visakhapatnam, her seat of 2009 as per Naidu's wish. "Rajampet, with all seven assembly segments, dominated by the YSR Congress is a risky seat for Purandeswari, but Naidu has left her with no choice," said a senior BJP leader.