Elections result 2024: Nitish Kumar, Chandrababu Naidu emerge kingmakers

Both TDP and JD(U) have pledged their allegiance to the NDA and have confirmed that they will be present at the alliance’s meeting scheduled for June 5

Updated - June 05, 2024 12:40 pm IST

Published - June 04, 2024 11:57 pm IST - New Delhi 

TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu greets people on his way to the party office in Mangalagiri on June 4, 2024.

TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu greets people on his way to the party office in Mangalagiri on June 4, 2024. | Photo Credit: G.N. Rao

With 28 seats between them, N. Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) hold the balance of the BJP-led National Democratic alliance (NDA) in their hands. Both parties have re-pledged their allegiance to the NDA and have confirmed that they will be present at the alliance’s meeting scheduled for Wednesday. This has not stopped the INDIA bloc, which is nearly 40 seats short of the majority mark, from courting them. 

Election Results 2024 LIVE updates: We are in NDA, asserts TDP chief Naidu; Nitish, Tejashwi

Cognisant of the tightrope walk ahead, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his victory speech at the party headquarters in Delhi credited both Mr. Kumar and Mr. Naidu for the NDA’s victory in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. In a post on X, Mr. Naidu said, “Our people of Andhra Pradesh have blessed us with a remarkable mandate. This mandate is a reflection of their trust in our alliance and its vision for the State. Together with our people, we shall rebuild Andhra Pradesh and restore its glory.”

Unlike Mr. Naidu’s public assertion, there was none forthcoming from Bihar Chief Minister Mr. Nitish Kumar. Mr. Kumar purportedly declined to meet Bihar BJP president Samrat Chaudhary, despite his repeated efforts to meet him on Tuesday. His refusal has spurred speculation, especially since there are talks that INDIA bloc leaders have approached him. Though, in Delhi, party’s secretary general and spokesperson K.C. Tyagi told The Hindu, “We are with the NDA and will continue to be with them.” 

Mr. Naidu and Mr. Kumar both in the past have publicly repudiated Mr. Modi. In March 2018, the TDP, which was part of the NDA’s first term, snapped ties with the BJP over denial of special category status to Andhra Pradesh. The TDP had also subsequently moved a no-confidence motion against the Modi government and joined hands with the Congress and rest of the Opposition ahead of the 2019 elections. Mr. Naidu returned to the NDA fold just ahead of the 2024 elections. 

Scathing resolution

Following the 2002 Gujarat riots, Mr. Naidu’s TDP was the first NDA ally to demand for Mr. Modi’s resignation as Chief Minister. In April 2002, the TDP adopted a scathing resolution against Mr. Modi for having miserably failed to quell the violence and also in providing relief and rehabilitation to victims of communal riots. He also demanded Mr. Modi’s resignation. In June 2013, just a week after then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was named the campaign committee chief of the BJP for the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Mr. Kumar snapped his ties with the BJP campaigning for a “secular prime minister.” Both have also been part of the coalition governments. 

This gives the Opposition hope that the two could be convinced to switch sides. At a press conference in the Congress headquarters, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, when asked about Mr. Naidu and Mr. Kumar, said, “We are going to have a meeting [of INDIA bloc] tomorrow [on Wednesday]. These questions will be raised and answered there. We respect our alliance partners and we are not going to make statements in the press without asking them,” he said. Party’s general secretary (communications) Jairam Ramesh, in a post on X, asked Mr. Naidu whether he will have “the courage to demand special category status for Andhra Pradesh as a non-negotiable precondition for support to the NDA at the Centre?” He also listed out “special category status” for Andhra Pradesh, as promised by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as “unfinished business of 2014” that the INDIA bloc, he said, would fulfil. “For the past 10 years the outgoing Modi sarkar [government] did nothing. It, in fact, abolished the very policy of special category status to financially distressed States,” he said.   

 

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