Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national general secretary Ram Madhav on Saturday said that the party and the Centre would soon be extending the olive branch to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and leader of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) N.Chandrababu Naidu to resolve his concerns in a mutually beneficial to both parties.
Responding to Naidu's expression of disappointment over the Union Budget proposals for 2018-19 not addressing the needs of Andhra Pradesh, Madhav said, "There seems to be some kind of unhappiness, we will talk it out. TDP is an old ally of the BJP. We will talk it out with them and will tell them we are committed to the interests of Andhra Pradesh."
Madhav further said, "We at the BJP are committed not only to address the TDP's concerns with regard to the Budget proposals but also, all other issues of concern that it may have. We will convince Mr. Naidu and the TDP not to think of severing their ties with the BJP or the NDA. They are a valuable ally."
Madhav's response came days after a disappointed Naidu summoned an emergency meeting of his party to decide on the future course of action with regard to the TDP's association with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
An upset TDP pitched its senior leader and union minister Y S Chowdhary to tell the media in no uncertain terms that it was unhappy over no monetary allocation for Andhra Pradesh on many issues such as Polavaram project, funding for the new state capital of Amravati, making Visakhapatnam a zonal railways headquarters and clearance for the Kadappa steel plant project.
Chowdhary had February 1 warned that the TDP had three options before it, namely, (1) either try and continue the alliance (2) make their MPs resign and (3) simply terminate an association with the BJP and the NDA.
He said that the TDP executive would in all probability meet on Sunday to take a final decision on the matter. It has been reported that TDP MPs have been called to Vijayawada for a meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday morning.
Last week, Naidu had issued an ultimatum to the BJP chart its own course if the BJP did not wish to continue with the alliance.
The TDP is the BJP's largest political rally in southern India. Its warning came shortly after another disgruntled ally, the Shiv Sena, publicly slammed the BJP for treating its allies improperly and threatened to sever the partnership.
The TDP is of the view that the 2018 Budget proposals are 'anti-people and corporate friendly', and a betrayal of the interests of Andhra Pradesh. It has said that its concerns are of a serious nature and need to be addressed effectively and promptly.
The TDP, which has been an ally of the BJP and a member of the NDA between 1998 and 2002, and again since 2013 to the present, is reportedly looking at a political alternative in the run-up to the 2019 general elections. It is being reported that the party and Chief Minister Naidu have already carried out an assessment of the pros and cons of a split with the BJP.
Meetings have reportedly been taking place between the leadership of the two parties, but as of now, the options are few and far, and if the TDP's demands are not met, it could withdraw its members from the union cabinet as a first step.
To improve his vote share Naidu is eyeing the sizeable minority vote in the state. Last time, the Muslim vote had gone to the YSR Congress as the Congress party was seen as a weak rival to keep the BJP away.
The BJP is reportedly concerned about gaining a toehold in South India. It wants to have allies in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.