After three weeks of frantic parleys, swinging in and out of a tie-up, the Telugu Desam Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday finally announced their coming together for the 2014 polls.
It would be a regrouping of the two parties, as the TDP had backed the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee between 1998-2004.
“TDP will be part of the NDA now,” Shiromani Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujral said, with TDP president Nara Chandrababu Naidu and BJP leader Prakash Javdekar present alongside.
With Telangana statehood looming large on Andhra Pradesh, both parties would be hoping to benefit from each other.
In 1999, the TDP-BJP alliance had bagged 36 of the 42 seats in the state. The BJP alone got an unprecedented seven seats. It did not get a single seat from the state in the last two Lok Sabha elections.
Naidu said the NDA would bag more than 300 seats in the Lok Sabha elections. He added that BJP prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi would get the top post.
The delay in declaration of the alliance, which the saffron party's central leadership and Naidu were keen on, was due to opposition from the Telangana BJP unit wanting to go alone in the soon to be formed state.
Later, the TDP was in disagreement over the number and constituencies the BJP, a small player in Andhra Pradesh, wanted to contest.
Naidu put an end to the dilemma by declaring that BJP would contest in five out of 25 Lok Sabha seats in Seemandhra and eight out of 17 in Telangana.
In addition, BJP would contest 15 assembly seats in Seemandhra and 47 in Telangana. This seat-sharing arrangement is in accordance with the numbers HT had projected a a week ago.
Read: BJP-TDP alliance did not come easy
The Lok Sabha and assembly polls are being held in simultaneously in Andhra Pradesh in two phases — April 30 (Telangana) and May 7 (Seemandhra).
The new allies, however, did not reveal the specific constituencies each would contest. This is being seen as an effort to buy time to pacify leaders who would have to sacrifice their ambitions due to the alliance.
“There would be disappointment (for our party hopefuls) but in the interest of the nation, TDP and BJP have to ally to remove the Congress from power,” Naidu said.
The lists would be announced in a day or two, he added. The last date for nominations in Telangana is April 9.
TDP cadre opposed to the alliance assembled at Naidu’s residence, where the pact was announced.
Party MLA Hanumantha Rao, cherishing a seat now likely to be allotted to the BJP, has declared he will contest as an independent.
Asked about dissent in the BJP, Javadekar said all workers would work in tandem for a TDP-BJP victory.
Telangana BJP unit chief Kishan Reddy, who had opposed the tie-up, was not present at Naidu’s residence for announcement of the pact.
On Friday, at least six of the BJP’s 10 Telangana district unit chiefs had warned of resignation in case of an alliance with the TDP.
Signs of this tie-up had been visible for some time. It was in August last year that Modi had reached out to the TDP, reminding the party of the agenda of its founder NT Rama Rao – throwing the Congress out of power.
And in December, when Naidu was seen with top BJP leaders at the swearing-in ceremony of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, it strengthened talk of the alliance.