Upset over 'weak candidates' that its poll partner has been fielding, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) said on Thursday that it will walk out of a poll alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for 175 Assembly and 25 Parliamentary seats in Seemandhra region. Election here will take place on 7 May.
TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu said at an election rally in Gajapathinagaram in Vizianagaram district that the BJP's weak candidates in the Assembly and Parliament seats allocated to it in Seemandhra is giving the rivals Congress and the YSR Congress an advantage. "The objective is to win more seats in the Parliament to be advantageous to the NDA as well," said Naidu, justifying his decision to withdraw from the poll alliance in Seemandhra.
The TDP and BJP poll alliance has been on the rocks ever since Naidu pushed for an electoral alliance and gave four Parliamentary seats and 13 Assembly seats to the BJP in Seemandhra, and 8 Parliamentary and 45 Assembly seats in Telangana. However, the hitch was over giving the Visakhapatnam seat to former union minister Purandeswari. It is reliably learnt that Naidu had personally put a condition to the BJP leaders to not give Visakhapatnam Parliamentary seat to Purandeswari.
Commenting on the TDP chief's remarks, BJP leader Prakash Jawadekar said here that "nothing is lost and that the party high command will review the situation" on Friday. Andhra's BJP president, Haribabu, is preparing to go it alone in the state. He has prepared a list of probables so that the BJP can contest as many Parliamentary seats as possible in Seemandhra. He is expected to meet Naidu on Friday. Naidu is reportedly in touch with the BJP's national leaders to salvage the alliance.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said it was not proper for the TDP to reconsider the alliance at this stage.
By announcing its walkout from the poll alliance at an election rally, Naidu also hinted that the situation had been caused by interference from Seemandhra's RSS leaders, who have been demanding tickets for their followers even though they are not well-known in public life. Naidu's declaration came after his tour of West and East Godavari districts during the week where party cadre were protesting against conceding key seats like Rajaymundry to the BJP.
Naidu is objecting to BJP's candidates, some of whom, like Haribabu, have links to the Sangh Parivar.
Besides, it is learnt that Naidu's decision is influenced by actor Pawan Kalyan's followers and his Jana Sena, to put up its candidates as independents, in protest against the TDP for not giving room to Pawan's followers. "Pawan Kalyan is piqued over Chandrababu Naidu rejecting a ticket for the Vijayawada seat to P Vara Prasad (Tollywood heavyweight). Now, with the BJP out of his hair, Naidu can give those seats to Pawan Kalyan and get his support for the star campaign, say TDP sources.
Meanwhile, Purandeswari, who had joined the BJP with the hope of getting a ticket for the Visakhapatnam seat, is now being asked to contest from Rajampet, in Kadapa district; Rajampet is a mining town and is dominated by faction politics. She will be pitted against her erstwhile Congress colleague and minsiter Sai Pratap. Sources say that Purandeswari is not keen to contest as Naidu had deliberately given Rajampet to BJP. "Chandrababu Naidu had admitted Congress defector Magunta Srinivas Reddy into the TDP last week just to deny the Ongole Parliamentary seat to Purandeswari, which was the best option in the event Visakhapatnam was denied to her," said a TDP source.