Lok Sabha polls: BJP, TDP form alliance in Andhra Pradesh

Chandrababu Naidu; Amit Shah. Photo: X/@JaiTDP

New Delhi: The BJP sealed its alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) on Saturday for the upcoming Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections, with former chief minister of the southern state N Chandrababu Naidu asserting that the combine will sweep the polls.

The alliance was formalised after the two parties and actor Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena Party (JSP) held another round of talks involving Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief J P Nadda, besides Naidu and Kalyan.

A joint statement issued by the three parties said under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "dynamic and visionary" leadership, they have decided to contest the Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh Assembly polls together as they are committed to ensuring the country's progress and upliftment of the state and its people.

"We hope that the alliance will come up to the expectation of the people of Andhra Pradesh with their wholehearted support," Nadda, Naidu and Kalyan said in the statement.

The seat-sharing modalities for the 25 Lok Sabha and 175 Assembly seats in the state would be deliberated in a day or two, the statement said.

TDP president Naidu told a group of reporters after the finalisation of the alliance talks that Andhra Pradesh and its brand have been "destroyed" by the state's ruling YSR Congress Party as he lashed out at Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy for "pushing the state backwards" while the country is progressing.

"Our alliance will sweep the polls," Naidu asserted. The Lok Sabha and Assembly polls will be held simultaneously in Andhra Pradesh.

"Andhra Pradesh has been destroyed badly. Its brand has been destroyed. The BJP and the TDP coming together is a win-win situation for the country and the state," Naidu said.

Lauding Modi's leadership, he said several good things are happening in the country but Andhra Pradesh is going backwards.

Pawan Kalyan; Amit Shah. Photo: X/@JaiTDP

While wealth creation is a top priority for Modi, "wealth destruction" is the top priority for the YSR Congress, Naidu alleged.

Though he did not specify the number of seats each party in the alliance will contest, sources said the BJP and the JSP may together contest around eight Lok Sabha and 30 Assembly seats. The TDP is likely to field candidates from the remaining 17 Lok Sabha and 145 Assembly segments.

The BJP, which is eying to boost its Lok Sabha tally, may contest six parliamentary and as many Assembly seats in the southern state, the sources said.

The two-term former chief minister played down his past differences with the BJP, asserting that having the same alliance in power at the Centre and in the state will be a big boost for Andhra Pradesh.

He expressed confidence that all sections of the society, including minorities, would vote for the alliance.

The TDP exited the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 2018 after its demand that the Centre should grant special category status to the southern state was not met. The BJP has maintained that its government at the Centre has been fulfilling all the commitments made to Andhra Pradesh.

Naidu praised Modi for promoting India globally, bringing about reforms and making the country "number one" in terms of growth, among other measures.

It will be a "great advantage" to have the same alliance in power at the Centre and in Andhra Pradesh, he asserted.

Naidu is learnt to have invited Modi to attend a proposed joint rally of the alliance in Guntur on March 17. Incidentally, the Congress has also planned a rally in Mumbai on the same day to mark the end of the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra.

The statement said Modi has been working tirelessly for the country's progress for the last 10 years and the coming together of the BJP, TDP and JSP will help achieve the aspirations of the people of Andhra Pradesh.

It also cited their old ties. "The BJP and the TDP have a very old relationship together. The TDP joined the NDA in 1996 and has worked together successfully in governments led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi," it added.

In 2014, the TDP and the BJP fought the Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh Assembly polls together, while the JSP supported the two parties, it noted.

Though the presence of the BJP, which had secured less than one per cent vote share in the 2019 polls in Andhra Pradesh, is limited in the state, Modi's appeal and its overall electoral muscle can be a big boost for the TDP, which had long been wooing the national party for an alliance.

The BJP is seen as the favourite to retain power in the Lok Sabha polls, with Modi repeatedly expressing confidence in returning to the helm for a third term. He has set a target of winning 370 seats for the BJP and more than 400 for the NDA of the total 543 Lok Sabha seats.

The BJP won 303 seats in 2019 as Modi led the party to power for a second consecutive term with a bigger victory than in 2014 when it secured its first-ever majority in the House.

There is also a buzz that the BJP may have a get-together of principal NDA leaders to highlight the growing strength of its alliance, which was recently joined by Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar.

The BJP is also in talks with Odisha's ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) for an alliance.

Naidu, Kumar and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik were BJP allies in the past as well but had severed ties with the saffron party at different points in time.

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