The reaction in the Telugu Desam party to the issue of notification for Rajya Sabha elections on Thursday for four vacancies is muted, with Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu away on a holiday. Senior party leaders and those who want to enter the fray preferred to wait till the arrival of Mr. Naidu, but there is speculation whether the party would contest all four or leave one to its ally, BJP, with whom the relationship has soured in the recent weeks.
The four vacancies were caused with end of the term of two Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Y. Sujana Choudhary and Congress members J.D. Seelam and Jairam Ramesh. The Congress Party, faced a rout in both Assembly and Lok Sabha in Andhra Pradesh, is out of reckoning.
The names that are doing the rounds include Khambampati Rammohan Rao, who had served two terms earlier and who is now Special Representative of AP in New Delhi, Beeda Masthan Rao and M. Durgaprasad of Nellore district, former Ministers, J. R. Pushparaj of Guntur and Chikkala Ramachandra Rao of East Godavari district. But the debate is on whether Mr. Choudary, Union Minister of State for Science and Technology, would be re-nominated.
BJP leaders kept their fingers crossed over the re-nomination of another Union Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman. She was nominated last time for two years with a clear understanding between the TDP and the BJP.
But the relationship is not so cordial any more, with both parties indulging in a blame game over Special Category Status and spending of funds released by the NDA government. Asked about renomination of Ms. Sitharaman, K. Haribabu, BJP MP and president of the State BJP, said it was too early to comment.
Telugu Desam has enough strength to field three candidates, but it feels it could get the fourth one too with support from YSR Congress MLAs who switched over recently. The TDP's game plan is to deny even the one seat that could go YSRCP way by weaning more MLAs to its side. It means the latter may find it difficult to even muster the support of 43 MLAs required to get its candidate elected.