Congress, TDP, Left form grand alliance to fight Telangana election
Three opposition parties in Telangana — the Congress, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) — on Tuesday announced the formation of “Maha Kootami” (grand alliance) with the sole objective of defeating the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the ensuing assembly elections, although the exact contours of the alliance are still a work in progress.
This is for the first time that the TDP, which was founded on an anti-Congress plank in 1982, will be joining hands with the Congress party. The CPI has allied with both the parties in the past.
On Tuesday, the heads of the three opposition parties in Telangana, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Captain N Uttam Kumar Reddy, Telangana TDP president L Ramana and CPI state secretary Chada Venkat Reddy, along with other leaders from their parties, discussed the alliance at a hotel in the city’s Banjara Hills area for nearly four hours.
“We have decided in principle to form into a grand alliance or Maha Kootami for the coming elections. We are working out the modalities for the same. We are also trying to rope in other like-minded parties like Telangana Jana Samithi and CPI (M) into the alliance,” the PCC president said after the discussions.
Though there has been talk of a possible alliance between the Congress and the TDP for some time, Tuesday marked the first time leaders of both parties sat at the negotiation table.
The talks followed a series of discussions the Telangana TDP leaders had with party president and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu during his visit to Hyderabad on September 8 and 9.
He directed them to form an alliance with the Congress in Telangana to prevent splitting of anti-establishment votes, but left it to the Telangana TDP leaders to arrive at a seat-sharing formula.
“While there is a general consensus on the issue of forming a grand alliance, the parties are working out the finer details, such as identifying the strength of each party in various assembly constituencies and the chances of their victory in the event of an alliance. The number of seats to be shared has not yet been discussed,” a senior Congress leader familiar with the development said on the condition of anonymity.
He added that his party is keen on contesting on not less than 90 seats in the 119-member assembly. “This is essential, if the Congress party has to win the magic figure of 60 seats to come to power independently.”
The TDP, Hindustan Times learns, is keen on contesting in at least 25-30 seats. “If we adopt a give-and-take approach, it is not difficult to forge an alliance,” the Congress leader added.
The BJP and the TRS described the alliance between the Congress and the TDP as “unholy”. BJP state president Dr K Laxman said the TDP was going against the very principle of anti-Congressism on which it was founded. “It is purely an opportunistic alliance.”
Senior TRS leader and former deputy speaker of the state assembly Padma Devender Reddy said people would not accept the TDP-Congress alliance under any circumstances. “Let there be as many number of parties as they can in the grand alliance. We are not scared. The TRS is going to come back to power with a massive mandate,” she said.
Political analyst Akhileshwari Ramagoud said if the alliance materialises in Telangana, it would pave way for a larger alliance at the national level. “There is nothing wrong in the TDP and the Congress parties coming together. When the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party can join hands in UP, why can’t the TDP and the Congress in Telangana?”
As if to continue the alliance spirit, leaders of the three parties went in a delegation to Raj Bhawan in the evening and submitted a memorandum to governor ESL Narasimhan seeking imposition of President’s Rule in Telangana.
“The caretaker government led by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (called KCR) has embarked on witch-hunting of opposition party leaders by digging out old cases and getting them arrested. We are afraid there will not be free and fair elections in the state if KCR continues in his seat. So, the governor should recommend the imposition of President’s Rule in the state,” the PCC president said.