BJP-Chandrababu Naidu-Pawan Kalyan alliance finalised, say sources

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BJP-Chandrababu Naidu-Pawan Kalyan Alliance Finalised, Say Sources

New Delhi:

The Bharatiya Janata Party has finalised seat-share deals with the Telugu Desam Party of ex-Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and actor Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena, sources told NDTV Friday evening. The alliance covers this year’s Lok Sabha election and the Assembly poll, with the national party likely to contest six to eight seats in the former and 10-12 in the latter.

The third party in the alliance – the Jana Sena, already a member of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance – will likely get three Lok Sabha and 24 Assembly seats, with the TDP getting the rest.

Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party dominated both elections five years ago, winning 22 of the state’s 25 Lok Sabha seats and 151 of its 175 Assembly segments.

The BJP – which contested both on its own – failed to win a single seat in either. An alliance with state parties is unlikely to generate a significantly different outcome for the saffron party, but will boost its overall score and help reach the ‘abki baar 400 paar’ target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Congress were similarly routed, but the (now joint) rival has set the stage for a blockbuster battle by signing up the Chief Minister’s sister, YS Sharmila, and handing her control of its state unit.

An “in principle” confirmation of the alliance with the BJP was provided by senior TDP leader and Rajya Sabha MP K Ravindra Kumar, who told news agency PTI the parties will now work together.

The alliance follows two rounds of extensive talks between Mr Naidu and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, with BJP boss JP Nadda also involved; the second took place in Delhi earlier today.

The TDP was a crucial part of a BJP-led national alliance till 2018, when Mr Naidu – then the Chief Minister – walked out citing unfulfilled demands for special status. The withdrawal was seen as the result of a pressure tactic by Mr Reddy, who benefitted from the split and the subsequent friction.

READ | 6 Years After Leaving, Chandrababu Naidu Set For NDA Return

After the 2018 split the BJP’s state unit said its “doors are closed forever (to the TDP)”.

Sources said the BJP wants to contest several prime parliamentary constituencies, including Vizag, Vijayawada (won by the TDP in 2019), Araku, Rajampet, Rajahmundry, and Tirupati.

The Jana Sena could get the Machilipatnam seat as one of its three, which is significant because Vallabhaneni Balasouri, the sitting MP, jumped from the YSR Congress to the Jana Sena this year.

Up until last month, the BJP was in the arguably enviable position of weighing deals with either the TDP or the YSRCP; both Chandrababu Naidu and Jagan Mohan Reddy travelled to Delhi to talk to senior BJP leaders, with the former meeting Amit Shah and the latter the Prime Minister.

READ | Before Lok Sabha Polls, Jagan Reddy, Chandrababu Naidu In BJP Huddles

Analysts then, however, said the BJP may not commit, publicly, to either side, since the regional parties had concerns that a formal tie-up might lead to a loss of minority votes. An informal deal was seen as something the BJP wanted too, because it would give them greater room to manoeuvre.

That, however, seems to now be settled. Mr Modi’s party will fight the Lok Sabha and Assembly election with former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.

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