Have the Telugu states, which were in the vanguard of national politics, lost their steam ahead of general elections? That appears to be true given the fast-changing political scenario.
After the advent of the NTR-led Telugu Desam Party, national political alliances have never cast an ignorant eye on the then-undivided Andhra Pradesh. It is a fact, that after the division of Andhra Pradesh, it lost its clout in national politics.
Now, the two Telugu states are led by regional political parties, the KCR-led BRS of Telangana and the Jagan-led YSRCP of Andhra Pradesh. In spite of the fact that ignoring both parties would amount to losing a large number of Lok Sabha seats, the newly formed ‘INDIA’ and the ruling NDA have chosen to ignore these parties.
The reason is obvious. In Telangana, although it has lost a lot of its strength, the ruling BRS is still in a position to call the shots and the same holds good for the YSRCP. But still, for both parties, there seems to be no place in national political blocs.
There must be either a hidden political pact or the national alliances may be thinking that the parties invariably support the alliance that comes to power.
The ruling Telugu parties will not be in a position to dictate terms, even though they may win most of the Lok Sabha seats in their respective states.
Why this sudden turn of events and what could be the reason behind it? On the face of it, it seems that it is a political manoeuvre of both the political alliances to keep the Telugu parties at a distance so that they will come in handy for them whenever they need their help.
It is an undeniable truth that no two states in India are as entangled in bifurcation disputes as these two states are. For a favourable resolution of the issues, these states have to support the alliance that comes to power at the Centre after the Lok Sabha elections.
Due to this, the support of the Telugu states is taken for granted although they are not part of either the NDA or INDIA. Not being a part of any of the alliances amounts to a delay in resolving bifurcation issues which would be a continuous torture for the states.
As of now, it doesn’t matter if the BRS or the YSRCP and for that matter the TDP are part of or not part of national political groupings. Ultimately it is political expediency that matters.
The neutrality of the Telugu ruling parties may ensure their inevitability as they have a combined strength of 42 Lok Sabha seats, in case any of the political alliances falls short of a majority.
The NDA has 36 parties and INDIA is a combination of 23 parties. No party can come out of their respective alliances, whether they come to power or remain out of power.
Then the neutrality of the Telugu states will become a strong weapon to bargain.
At present, no alliance is sure of success. Against this backdrop, if the Telugu states and their leaders stand united they will stand tall in protecting the rights of Telugus. If they join the NDA or INDIA they will be considered as part of the pack.
By staying out of the alliances, the Telugu ruling parties have protected their identity and with that, they can exert the maximum pressure on the alliance that comes to power.
Not being part of the pack is a tactic for now, but how it translates into a strategy remains to be seen. It depends on the acumen of Telugu political stalwarts.