After losing three elections back-to-back in less than a year, former Andhra Pradesh (AP) chief minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo might find himself at a crossroad, as his political future hangs in the balance. TDP leaders said that while his original plan was to transition power slowly to his son Nara Lokesh, Naidu did not expect the major drubbing he received in the AP assembly and Lok Sabha polls by the YSR Congress Party.
In 2018, Naidu’s decision to tie up with the Congress in the Telangana elections proved to be unsuccessful, as the TDP could win just two out of the 13 assembly seats in contested as part of the alliance. To add to injury, one of the MLAs defected to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which won 88 out of the 119 seats, within just days after the elections ended. It was disastrous for Naidu, who was looking to have a say in Telangana politics as well
And in the 2019 polls, the TDP was handed a stinging victory as the Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSRCP won 151 out of the 175 assembly seats, and 22 of the 25 parliamentary seats. “Naidu is going abroad for some days, and after he returns he is likely to decide what to do in the coming days. Usually leaders lose power in these situations, but Naidu has made sure that no leader is equal to him in stature or power,” a TDP leader, who did not want to be named, said.
He added that the TDP had expected to retain power with a simple majority, and that Naidu had planned to vacate the chief minister’s post mid-way through his term to allow Lokesh to take his place. However, Lokesh also lost the Mangalagiri assembly seat which he contested this election. “He definitely will transition power to his son, but we have to see what happens now given the huge setback. Within the party, unlike Naidu, most leaders don’t have influence a few districts. There probably won’t be any major change for now,” added the TDP leader.
What was surprising, said the TDP leader, was that his party lost about 9% of vote share in the coastal Andhra region, which is considered to be a stronghold of the TDP. Over all, the TDP secured nearly 40% of the vote share in the assembly polls, while the YSRCP got about 50%. “This means a section of the backward class (BC) votes, which are considered to be our backbone, have shifted,” he asserted.
Political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy said that the TDP now needs to go back to the drawing board and figure out what exactly went wrong for it in the elections. “Earlier there were two parties in AP, now there it just one, the YSRCP,” he remarked.