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Lok Sabha 2024: Which National Political Camp Will BRS, YSRCP & TDP Go To?

Both KCR and Jagan Reddy seem to have favoured local political equations over national ones.

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Along with 2024 Lok Sabha elections two high decibel state polls are expected to be held in south India – Telangana in 2023 and Andhra Pradesh in 2024. With a major churning taking place in the national Opposition camp, where do state parties in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh stand? Will they support the Congress-led national Opposition or with the BJP which has been governing the country since 2014.

In a nutshell, Telangana’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and Andhra Pradesh’s YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) have kept their options open with some caveats. While K Chandrashekar Rao’s BRS is likely to favour an anti-BJP front, Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRCP is likely to support the side which crosses the halfway mark in Lok Sabha elections.

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Why the BRS Favours Opposition

The BRS, which till 2022 went by the name Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), had supported some of BJP’s policies the first time it came to power between 2014 and 2018. This scenario, according to BRS sources, is not likely to repeat even if the BJP comes back to power in 2024.   

“The BRS knows that the BJP befriends regional parties and kills them eventually. KCR (Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao) is most likely to oppose the BJP, even if it comes to power,” a BRS leader told The Quint.

But the party has not agreed to any pre-poll alliance as its leaders think this could weaken their chances in Telangana Assembly election 2023. “We cannot align with the Congress because if we do that there will be consolidation of both anti-Congress and anti-BRS votes in favour of the BJP,” the leader quoted above explained.  

However, KCR, who made a foray into national politics in 2022, is expected to flaunt strong ties with non-Congress opposition leaders to indicate his displeasure with the BJP. “Congress alone does not command all the parties in the Opposition camp. We are likely to align with neutral parties which are neither too close to the Congress nor to the BJP,” a BRS leader explained. On this front, the BRS does have Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party in mind, the BRS leader said. Both AAP and SP leaders have visited Telangana on KCR’s invitation in the recent past.

The BRS is also keen on becoming a national party soon as indicated by KCR’s trips to Maharashtra where BRS leaders got rousing welcome in some parts, forcing the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)’s Sharad Pawar to take the bait and issue statements.

“The tours to other states are towards the long-term plan of getting national party status,” a BRS leader said, adding, “These tours are not being held for Lok Sabha elections.”

If the BJP struggles to reach the halfway mark in 2024, BRS is likely to find a berth in the Opposition camp even if it were to be led by the Congress. If not, the BRS is likely to stay close to ‘neutral parties’ like AAP and SP instead of the Congress.

Meanwhile, in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, the political equations are way more complicated.

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Why is YSRCP Likely to be a Silent BJP Ally and Where Will TDP Go?

Before he came to power with a thumping majority in AP in 2019, YSRCP supremo Jagan Mohan Reddy said that he would support any party which offers special category status to Andhra Pradesh. It did not come to that as the BJP came to power in the Centre with a thumping majority and Jagan Reddy remained silent yet close to the BJP.

His political opponent, N Chandrababu Naidu, meanwhile had joined the anti-BJP camp only to find himself routed in his home state.

In 2023, some equations have changed in AP. One, Jagan Mohan Reddy’s sister YSR Telangana Party leader YS Sharmila joined the Congress recently. Jagan Reddy’s former close aide P Srinivas Reddy too joined the Congress, which is in a three-way contest with both BRS and BJP in Telangana.

Does this mean that Jagan Reddy has changed his stand towards the BJP? A source close to the YSRCP said:

“Jagan’s clear stand has been that he will neither comment nor indulge in national politics which does not have a direct impact in AP. Except for the ‘revdi culture’ jibe of the BJP which he opposed Jagan has not really commented on any of the national political developments including the coming together of Opposition parties.”

Meanwhile, TDP is not happy with the little prominence Chandrababu Naidu has had after he lost in AP. He has neither been a pivotal figure in the state or the country after 2019, as even a few MLAs who won under the TDP banner defected to the BJP later. While TDP has been conspicuously absent from the Opposition meet called by Nitish Kumar in June, it has not publicly softened its stand against the BJP.

"Chandrababu has mostly been focusing on AP and not Delhi," a source close to TDP said. However, it is not clear whether Naidu would jump ship and join hands with the BJP to try and rout Jagan Mohan Reddy in 2024 Assembly polls.

If he wins AP again, Jagan is likely to step in only if the BJP is troubled electorally, a source said. “AP which has 25 Lok Sabha seats could be the BJP’s Hail Mary pass,” a YSRCP source said. There are reasons for Jagan Reddy to support the BJP over the Opposition front. One, Reddy wants to be close to the Centre to get support for welfare measures that he has floated in the state. Moreover, he is embroiled in cases and controversies over disproportionate assets, making him vulnerable to further exposure to probe by central agencies.

Jagan Reddy, in all probability, is likely to try and have his cake and eat it too by allowing his close confidants to be part of the Opposition camp even as he himself remains close to the BJP. Unless the Congress gains by huge numbers in 2024 elections, there is very less chance of Reddy joining the Opposition camp.

In short, neither the BRS nor the YSRCP will favour national politics over local equations that they have mind to come back to power. The TDP, however, can favour the side which can help it come back to power in AP.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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