Hyderabad: The country’s most popular and many-a-time most influential regional political party was Telugu Desam Party, commonly known as TDP. Started by matinee idol and Telugu silver screen super star Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao in 1982, TDP came to power within nine months of its formation. It was a new wave in the country fighting against the powerful Indira Gandhi regime during those days. In fact, TDP’s success made many sit-up and watch developments in Andhra Pradesh (combined state then).
With such a good past, TDP had a strong base across the combined state and was a powerful political party which was surging ahead all through and had its influence on national politics during the regime of NTR and also during his son-in-law and the present TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu. While all was well with the party till the state was not bifurcated, after separate Telangana formation, TDP seems to lost its narrative as a political party with presence in two Telugu speaking states.
TDP under the leadership of NTR had come to power all alone in the very first attempt, but later started forming alliance with other parties to keep itself afloat in the world of politics. The party has the distinction of being the first regional party in the country to become the opposition party in Lok Sabha in 1984 when the general elections were held due to the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The Congress party registered win all over the country, except in Andhra Pradesh, where the TDP won by a huge margin. With 30 of the state’s 42 seats, the TDP arrived on the national stage.
Before impacting the national scenario, NTR and TDP overcame the coup attempt by his close aide Nadendla Bhaskar Rao in 1984.
NTR established himself in 1989 a national player (despite his party losing power in its own state) and actively took part in national politics. He formed a coalition of anti-Congress parties, the National Front, including the DMK, the Congress Party (socialist) and the Janata Dal. The National Front, led by NTR, was also supported by the BJP and the Left Front. In Andhra Pradesh, the TDP served the role of the main opposition.
In 1994, NTR came back to power for the third and final time. A year prior to this, he had officially married Lakshmi Parvathi, and this triggered his son-in-law Chandrababu Naidu to initiate another coup against NTR and successfully bring him down from the seat of power. Most TDP members, including NTR’s sons, sided with Naidu. Power within the party shifted to Naidu, and NTR’s faction came to be known as TDP (NTR). In 1996, NTR died, and Parvathi took over as the leader of TDP (NTR), which no longer had much representation in the state assembly. From 1995, Chandrababu Naidu was the CM of the state till 2004.
Chandrababu Naidu’s takeover of the party spelled doom for TDP, and the party’s electoral fortunes declined. statehood movement for Telangana, spearheaded by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). The TRS was founded by K Chandrashekara Rao (KCR), a former TDP member who quit the party in 2000 over differences with Chandrababu Naidu.In fact it was at the beginning of this century that TDP started facing hardships and losing out its base in the state.
These events followed TDP’s defeat in 2004 Assembly elections, Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy came to power. The Congress party continued for two terms, and thus the TDP slowly and steadily began witnessing the erosion of voter base in Telangana region. Moreover Chandrababu Naidu openly supported the idea of separate Andhra Pradesh and his cheap politiricks during the period of state bifurcation was yet another reason for people developing hatred against his party since 2009.
With his gimmickry and false promises, Chandrababu Naidu managed to get TDP to power in separate Andhra Pradesh in 2014 elections, but Telangana went the TRS way. This was not a good sign for TDP and its party men in Telangana. In fact, after over a year, Chandrababu Naidu left the leaders of Telangana TDP in lurch. He decided to shift to Vijayawada despite Hyderabad being the capital for both the states for 10 years. With this move the party lost its base in Telangana.
Over a period, from 2014 many important leaders shifted from TDP to ruling TRS and many are still following the precedent set by their leaders. But the dreamer in Chandrababu Naidu did not give up. Trying to woo the people by claiming that the TDP was the architect of Hyderabad as far as turning it into an international city goes, the party ventured to fight against the mighty TRS in the recently held Telangana assembly elections in 2018.
The drubbing received by the TDP during the Telangana assembly elections held on December 7, 2018, clearly indicated that the party and its leader do not have any kind of influence on the people of Telangana. In fact, the verdict suggested that TDP could forget about Telangana politics.
TDP was encouraged and supported by many leaders in Telangana during NTR's days. They trusted Chandrababu Naidu for a few years and after having understood his tricks, they have shown him the place. But the shrewd politician called Chandrababu Naidu tried a last gamble, or one final roll of the dice. In fact, many political pundits say that it was the nail of the coffin for TDP.
That the TDP decide against contesting Lok Sabha elections from Telangana is a clear indication of where it stands in the region. The party chief has set the swansong for TDP in Telangana. From the way things appear, he and his son Nara Lokesh are set to repeat this in Andhra Pradesh after the general elections.