Andhra Pradesh

BJP’s merger offer to TDP is to taunt Chandrababu Naidu

The BJP has been enjoying Chandrababu Naidu’s predicament. If to see the Telugu Desam losing power in Andhra Pradesh in May this year gave it immense happiness, the former chief minister’s admission this month that it was a mistake to exit the NDA, has doubled that pleasure. 

Which is why BJP leaders are going out of their way to taunt Naidu. Sunil Deodhar repeated Amit Shah’s line that the doors of the NDA were closed for ever on Naidu. And GVL Narasimha Rao on Saturday put a condition that he knows will never be fulfilled by Naidu.

Rao who had many a run-in in 2018-19 with TDP leaders, said one way Naidu could get back to the NDA was if he merged the TDP with the BJP. 

“If Chandrababu Naidu is willing to merge the TDP with the BJP, I am willing to speak to our central leadership and mediate on the issue,” said Rao. 

Rao was trying to do two things. One to please his party bosses because he knows that the TDP chief’s harsh remarks after breaking ties in March 2018 were taken rather personally by the top two of the BJP. Two, to tell Naidu that he is insignificant in the BJP scheme of things. Rao dismissed the TDP as a “defeated party that lacked credibility and even ideology”. 

What Rao forgets is that the TDP despite being reduced to 23 seats, still polled close to 40 per cent of the vote while it was the BJP that did not even open its account and lost its deposit in most constituencies. And in a state whose politics is essentially bipolar in nature, any wise political observer will never rule out either of the two contenders from striking gold in the future.

Apart from the desire to taunt Naidu, the Rajya Sabha MP’s sharp comment is more of an attempt to assert his importance in Andhra politics. Since the entry of four Rajya Sabha MPs from the TDP in June this year, Rao’s position as one of the more prominent voices has been reduced. In many party meetings, MPs like YS Chowdary and CM Ramesh are looking to make themselves seen and heard. Rao has had no love lost for these two MPs, who he had once dismissed as “Andhra’s Mallyas”. 

But at the same time, sources in the Andhra Pradesh BJP say Naidu is keen on a rapproachment. They say some prominent well-wishers are keen to help him as well but it won’t be so easy.

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