By Akhileshwari Anand Raj
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has lost considerable ground in Telangana over the past few weeks. This is because of various party members defecting to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Congress. In the past ten days alone, TDP members and leaders from various districts have joined the TRS on three different occasions. At least ten TDP members moved to the TRS in each of these occasions.
The move that triggered it all
These incidents were all subsequent to Revanth Reddy’s unprecedented move to Congress. He was a TDP MLA and a working president, who resigned to join the Congress on 31st October this year. He was the first legislator since Telangana’s formation in 2014 to have switched from TDP to a party other than the ruling TRS. TRS has attracted scores of defectors from its opposition parties, including Congress.
The cadres that left for TRS
On 30th October and 1st and 6th November, TRS sources stated that TDP cadres from Mahbubnagar and Nalgonda districts had been officially inducted into the TRS. This included Kancherla Bhupalreddy, an influential leader from the Nalgonda constituency, which is currently held by the Congress. Similarly, on November 8th, some minority leaders from the TDP were officially inducted into the TRS.
Preceding this, at the time Revanth Reddy moved to the Congress, state-level TDP leaders, including former MLAs and ministers, also shifted with him. With this move, the number of TDP MLAs in Telangana reduced to two, from 15. Twelve MLAs had defected to the TRS last year, of which a few were also inducted into the state cabinet.
Commenting on this move, senior TDP member Ravula Chandrashekar called this a “mind-game” being played by TRS leaders. He stated that those who had defected were only a few lower-level leaders; no senior leader from the TDP had left the party. Calling the TDP a “powerful party”, Peddi Reddy, TDP’s state general secretary and former minister, said that the party will continue to grow in Telangana and that they will fill the vacant posts of those who had defected.
TDP touted to vanish
Leo Augustine, former general secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), commented that this was a normal process which would continue for a while. He said that it would be “natural” for the TDP to vanish in Telangana because lower-ranked leaders do not have anything to stay for in the party. He also stated that it is normal for them to defect to the TRS or Congress because going to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would make the “colour stick permanently”, which will impede their opportunity of getting other votes in the future.
Balka Suman, a TRS MP from Pedapally constituency, stated that the TDP was heading towards a natural death in Telangana because its roots are in Andhra Pradesh. He compared this to the Lalu Prasad Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which collapsed in Jharkhand after the Jharkhand-Bihar split because it had been seen as a Bihar-based party.
Telangana Pradesh Congress President (TPCC) official spokesperson, Sravan Dasoju, said the political future of the TDP is uncertain. He stated that the reason behind this was because party members know that they cannot contest the 2019 state assembly elections alone, especially after the departure of Revanth, who was one of its “vociferous” leaders.
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