Even as UPA’s decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh has led to a political flux, its arch-rival waiting to occupy the throne in Delhi, the BJP, is confronted with a Hamletian dilemma—to ally with the Telugu Desam of Chandrababu Naidu or not—amid what is emerging as a win-win situation for the party in a state where it has minimal presence.
In a way, it is a dilemma for both the TDP and BJP because every other party has retained something and given up something. The Congress gave up in Andhra and Rayalaseema; YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has chosen to be relevant only in those two regions by opposing bifurcation while the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) is, in any case, confined to only one region. Out of power for 10 years and facing a do or die battle in 2014, it is only the TDP that is attempting to remaining relevant in Telangana and Andhra—refusing to back out on its support for a T state and at the same time pleading for justice to Andhra.
The TDP hopes to gain something in Telangana as BJP too has been supportive of statehood demand but it is the Congress-TRS combine that is expected to reap rich electoral dividends for creating the state. At the same time, there are doubts on how the TDP-BJP alliance will be perceived in Andhra/Rayalaseema. If people are seeing a “satan” in Sonia Gandhi, will the BJP be pardoned? TDP managers believe that the blame for bifurcation has already been laid at the Congress doorstep and focus will shift to development post-division and this is where the Naidu-Modi combine will work a magic.
As for the BJP, its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, albeit privately, seems to be pitching for the alliance but a few other top leaders are said to be cautious. In a sense, it is a moral victory for Modi, given that Naidu had walked out of the BJP fold 10 years ago, post-Godhra. Though Jagan too showered praise on Modi, it is being seen more as a ploy to counter the onslaught that he has colluded with the Congress to come out on bail. Moreover, the political base of Jagan—Reddys, Dalit Christians and minorities—hardly gives him a pre-poll opportunity to sail with the BJP while anything could happen after polls depending on how the equations play out.
A section of Telangana leaders of the BJP, however, are in favour of going alone as they see bifurcation as an opportunity. If the TRS does merge with the Congress, it would lead to a political vacuum that could be occupied by the BJP, a prospect that indeed bothers Muslim parties like MIM, opposing division only because of this underlying fear. An alliance with the TDP will shut this opportunity and thereby delay the emergence of BJP as an alternative to the Congress in Telangana. As for Andhra, the BJP can pick its ally post-poll. Interestingly, saffron leaders in Telangana are borrowing the Maoist theory on antagonistic contradictions to argue that post-division, it will be difficult for a regional party like the TDP to survive in both Telangana and Andhra, considering that the people/groups in the two regions have diametrically opposite concerns which is, in a way, a cause for bifurcation. Just as SP/BSP and RJD have become fringe players in Uttarakhand and Jharkhand respectively, after the new states were created.
But, the entire equation can change if the Congress, for any reason, fails to ensure creation of Telangana state before polls. In such a scenario, the Congress is set to lose out in both Telangana and Andhra-Rayalaseema, even as it opens up other options for the BJP. If it is confusing, it is indeed so, which is why sections in both the TDP and BJP prefer a wait and watch approach as clarity will emerge only after closure is brought to the issue of bifurcation. firstname.lastname@example.org