TBA Opinion

Is this TDP’s last chance for revival in Telangana? Here’s what it can do to survive!

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), created by its founder Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (NTR) in 1982 in Hyderabad, has been one of the veteran political parties which has played a crucial role in national politics and has brought recognition for Telugu people across the country. 

From creating history and producing some of the brightest brains of our country, the Telugu Desam Party has been one that has grown along with the state of Andhra Pradesh. As a political party, the TDP evolved gradually into an organisation that produces valuable leaders and has trained thousands of them along the way. 

Not only did it bring refreshing youngsters into politics but also made them Chief Ministers. Some of the notable ones are its current President and former two-time CM, Nara Chandrababu Naidu and current CM of Telangana, K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR). It has also been the only party to have taken a severe blow as a consequence of the bifurcation. 

Despite the party being the one that KCR got refined and trained in and also enjoyed the post of a deputy CM in united AP, he revolted against it to create the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) for a separate Telangana state. Not only did the Telangana movement brand TDP as an “Andhra Party” but it also weakened the party, by pushing its member to defect into the TRS and Congress following a bitter bifurcation. 

Much to the advantage of the ruling TRS and its chief KCR, the Telangana-TDP has been seeing its members leave and make a beeline for the TRS. While some have defected into the Congress and the BJP, nearly 10 ministers in the current Cabinet of Telangana are those who have been loyal TDP leaders. 

And, in the latest move, with Revanth Reddy becoming the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) President and indirectly being appointed as the CM-face for Telangana, it is clear that the Congress is now focussing on gaining its lost glory following bifurcation. Given that Revanth also is a former TDP leader and enjoys support of the masses, cutting across multiple parties, he will look at not only attracting the Reddy vote bank but also the TDP vote bank that is a loyal vote-base in Telangana.

And, with Telangana-TDP’s former head L. Ramana also quitting the party and jumping into the TRS, the T-TDP is left headless. There is information that TDP President Chandrababu Naidu is now looking at doing a rejig of the party and having 4 different leaders appointed as presidents to ensure that the party’s progress doesn’t fade away. 

Meanwhile, Telangana TDP also needs to do a lot of work. Here are some areas of focus: 

  1. Get a reality check: Identifying where the party stands currently and how it needs to prepare its lost ground to attract its loyal voters and leaders back into the party. 
  2. Lack of strong leaders: Ground-level work is completely missing as voters, despite being loyal, remain disillusioned. Lack of strong local leaders for the party at ward and consistency-level is hitting the party further. 
  3. Build a strong base: Coming up with a ground-up strategy is a must for the party’s survival in Telangana. Therefore, the party needs to come up with ways to provoke loyalty and use that to build its base in villages and rural areas. It should win back its voters who are currently shifting to Congress and BJP due to lack of choice and the party’s weak position in Telangana.
  4. Strong media and communication strategy: Despite a weak presence, the party needs to shed its inhibitions about pop culture and digital communication and look at ways to populate every medium with viral content and messaging. This will help the party attract young and new voters with a refreshing appeal. That apart, it needs to appoint strong spokespersons who talk the language that Telangana leaders reflect. 
  5. Reflect Telangana sentiment: Apart from the much-needed PR boost, Telangana TDP first needs to reflect the Telangana sentiment and the state’s interests as part of its narrative. All of its leaders should have a clear strategy on how KCR’s family has monopolised politics in the state and why the state needs to be first and not the CM’s family. Carrying this message into the masses could be a good start for the T-TDP. 

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Tejaswini Pagadala

Communications Consultant: TEJASWINI PAGADALA is an independent communications consultant. She has previously worked with the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister’s Office as the Communications Officer where she has written English speeches for the CM, managed English media communication from the CMO and handled social media accounts of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and the Government.
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