Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which retained power at the Centre and recorded historical electoral gains by winning four Lok Sabha seats in Telangana, is now looking at consolidation in the state by poaching the erstwhile ally Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leaders. The ruling party at the Centre is also eyeing the disgruntled TDP members of Andhra Pradesh.
While many senior BJP leaders stated many TDP leaders disillusioned after their party’s debacle in both states are in touch with them, the top leaders of TDP alleged that the saffron party was abusing regulatory agencies to coerce defections in both states.
After Karnataka, BJP is now seeking to turn the Telugu states into its second large base in south India, inspired by the encouraging electoral benefits reaped in Telangana.
“BJP had mostly lured the senior Congress leaders in both the Telugu-speaking states over the last few years and fielded them on its ticket,” stated political analyst Manchala Srinivasa Rao. “Looking at the growing political vacuum being left by the opposition parties in the two states, the saffron party will now look at poaching the TDP leaders in these states, including those in Andhra who recently got elected for assembly and Lok Sabha elections.”
BJP spokespersons in both Andhra and Telangana deny efforts to poach TDP and Congress leaders through coercive measures but claim that there is a growing interest among TDP and Congress leaders to join the saffron brigade.
In the latest Lok Sabha polls, BJP improved its vote share in Telangana to nearly 20% from around 7% in 2014 and bagged four out of 17 Lok Sabha seats, up from one in 2014.