Facing existential crisis in Telangana, TDP may skip by-poll

Hyderabad: The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which stayed away from the Lok Sabha polls in Telangana, was unlikely to contest the October 21 by-election to Huzurnagar Assembly seat, party sources said.

The party, which is facing existential crisis in Telangana, has left the decision to party national president N. Chandrababu Naidu.

A section of TDP leaders feel the party should skip the by-election to save itself from embarrassment, others favour joining the fray to show it was still alive in the region.

The TDP didn’t field candidates in the 17 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 polls. It was the first time since its formation in 1982 that the party stayed away from polls in the region.

Analysts say, the TDP, seen as Andhra party by many, is almost finished in Telangana as it lost almost the entire leadership to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) since 2014. In recent months, some has joined the Congress and others switched to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

After making inroads in the Lok Sabha polls by winning four seats, the BJP is projecting itself as the alternative to the TRS and there is hardly any political space left for the TDP in Telangana, say analysts.

The TDP is also demoralised after losing power in Andhra Pradesh. Though Naidu recently held talks with few party leaders from Telangana, the revival prospects appear bleak.

The TDP had contested the December 2018 Assembly elections in alliance with the Congress, the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS). The four-party alliance, led by the Congress, was humiliated as it could win only 21 seats in 119-member Assembly.

The TDP bagged just two seats and one of the MLAs subsequently crossed over to the TRS.

The TRS, which retained power by winning 88, consolidated further by luring as many as 15 MLAs from the Congress and other parties to join its ranks.

It’s likely to be a direct fight between the TRS and the Congress in Huzurnagar constituency as the BJP is unlikely to make any impact.

That the TRS is taking the by-election seriously was evident that within a couple of hours after the announcement of poll, the party declared candidate. Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao, also the TRS chief, decided to again field S. Saidi Reddy, who lost the vote in December 2018.

Saidi Reddy lost to Congress state chief N. Uttam Kumar Reddy by 7,466 votes. The by-poll is necessitated by resignation of Kumar Reddy from the Assembly after his election to the Lok Sabha from the Nalgonda constituency.

The by-election will be the first major test for the TRS, which suffered a blow in the Lok Sabha elections with the BJP and the Congress winning 4 and 3 seats, respectively.

However, the TRS recovered by making almost a clean sweep in rural local body elections in June.

Saidi Reddy will be locked in a keen battle against Padmavathi Reddy of the Congress. She is wife of Kumar Reddy. She had lost the Assembly elections from the Kodad constituency.