In alliance talks, BJP seeks six Lok Sabha seats, 20 Assembly seats from TDP

TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu remains tightlipped about the alliance, but TDP sources claim that talks are at an advanced stage and there will be more clarity by February 20

February 17, 2024 09:07 pm | Updated February 18, 2024 08:42 am IST - NEW DELHI

A file photo of senior BJP leader Amit Shah and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu.

A file photo of senior BJP leader Amit Shah and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu. | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

Alliance negotiations between the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are at an advanced stage ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha and State Assembly polls, as the Andhra Pradesh party makes its way back to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). According to BJP sources, the ruling party has demanded six Lok Sabha seats in the State, along with 20 Assembly seats, while Pawan Kalyan’s Jan Sena Party wants three Lok Sabha seats.

So far, no confirmations have been forthcoming from the TDP. According to party sources, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu is being tight-lipped about the possible seat-sharing arrangement, but has not denied the speculation. “An alliance is conditioned by several factors, including whether everyone on board is happy with their share of seats. Since the BJP is occupied with its National Council till Sunday, nothing will be finalised until February 20. Till then, it is all speculation and political flexing,” a TDP strategist said.

Past allies

The TDP and the BJP had fought the 2014 polls together, before Telangana was formally separated from Andhra Pradesh. Out of 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh, the TDP had kept 21 seats for itself, of which it won 15, and offered four to the BJP, which won two.

In 2018, however, the TDP walked out of the NDA, accusing the BJP of not keeping the promises made to the State. Making several rounds of the national capital, Mr. Naidu had tried to regain his position as convenor of the Opposition parties ahead of the 2019 general election, a role he had successfully played during the United Front government of 1996. The experiment did not work, however, and the TDP tally fell to just three in the Lok Sabha. In the 175-member Assembly, the TDP won only 23 seats.

TDP’s doubts

The TDP still has its reservations on whether an alliance with the BJP will have a positive impact, especially since the promise of special category status for the State remains unfulfilled. It also fears that minority voters will slip away from the party, hurting the TDP’s electoral performance. The BJP’s poor performance in 2019 in both the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections has added to the TDP’s scepticism.

“We don’t know if the sentiment has changed. But the fact is that [the State’s ruling] YSR Congress is feeling threatened by our growing proximity with the BJP. If the alliance with the BJP could hurt our electoral prospects, then why are they feeling concerned? Why did Chief Minister Jagan Reddy rush to Delhi to meet the Prime Minister soon after Mr. Naidu’s meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah?” a senior TDP leader remarked.

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