Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party will stay out of the electoral battle in Telangana, a senior party leader told NDTV today.
A decision to this effect is said to have been taken after a meeting of Telangana Telugu Desam chief Kasani Gnaneswar with Chandrababu Naidu inside Rajahmundry Central Jail.
Chandrababu Naidu, arrested for allegedly misappropriating funds from the Skill Development Corporation, is currently lodged in the Rajahmundry Central Jail.
Mr Naidu had reportedly said that with him in jail, it may not be possible for the leadership to campaign in Telangana and therefore the state party chief must explain to the cadre the circumstances.
Even otherwise, with the BJP showing keenness to go with the Jana Sena in Telangana while staying non-committal in Andhra Pradesh on joining hands with the Jana Sena that has declared that it will fight the 2024 elections with the Telugu Desam, has put Chandrababu Naidu in an awkward position.
The Telugu Desam has had a support base in Telangana because of which it won 15 seats in 2014 and two seats in the 2018 assembly elections. The elected MLAs subsequently shifted loyalty to the ruling party.
Supporters of Mr Chandrababu Naidu in Telangana had been upset that the BRS had not given statements condemning the arrest of Chandrababu Naidu and they were not allowed to hold a protest in his support in the Hitech city area.
When some groups said they would consider shifting their vote away from the BRS to the Congress, that had the ruling party leadership worried and then multiple leaders spoke up condemning the manner of Mr Naidu's arrest.
It is in this context that the BJP reaching out to Pawan Kalyan is significant. The Jana Sena has not been active in Telangana but Pawan Kalyan has a fan base. The BJP could hope that his announcement that he will fight the elections along with the Telugu Desam, could fetch them the votes of the Naidu supporters or at least move it away from the Congress and BRS.
This time in Telangana the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi, fighting to score a hat-trick in the state, is hoping people will go with "Manchiga Chesindu, Malli Vasthadu (He did well, He will come back)" whereas the Opposition is hoping it will be "10 samachralu ichcham. Marusdham (We gave 10 years. Let's Change)".
In 2018, Chief Minister KCR suddenly dissolved the assembly and announced his party candidates on the same day, taking competition by surprise. This time too, the BRS announced its candidates in August itself, becoming the first off the blocks.
KCR has expressed confidence that his party would emerge victorious in the upcoming assembly elections, securing between 95 and 105 seats in the 119-member house.
Going all-out, the BJP promised to make a person from the OBC community the Chief Minister if the party comes to power in Telangana.
In the previous Assembly election in 2018, the BRS, previously known as Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), won 88 of the 119 seats, hogging 47.4 per cent of the total vote share.
The Congress came in a distant second with just 19 seats
Telangana will vote on November 30 and results will be declared on December 3.