HYDERABAD: In an unexpected development that is raising eyebrows, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president Nara Chandrababu Naidu is emerging as the NDA's consensus candidate as Prime Minister in the event of the BJP failing to get more than 200 parliamentary seats on its own, revealed top leaders privy to the development.
Leaders said along with a formal pre-poll alliance between BJP and TDP, the formal announcement on Naidu emerging as the dark horse will come after Parliament session ends. With more than 200 seats on its own Narendra Modi will be the clear PM favorite. "It would be difficult for us to see Modi at the helm in case we fail to cross the 200 mark. While we are hopeful of getting more than 200 seats, it is practical to have plan B and leaders like Chandrababu Naidu would be the natural choice, going by his acceptance," said a top BJP leader who commented that he would be expelled by his party if he is named.
Naidu is likely to contest the parliamentary polls either from Malkajgiri in Ranga Reddy district or Hindupur in Anantapur district.
"It is for sure that Chandrababu Naidu is going to play a pivotal role in government formation at the Centre. And we are not denying the fact that he is the prime ministerial candidate. As the dynamics of the pre-poll coalition are being worked out, Naidu rightfully tops the list of consensus candidates for the PM post," said senior TDP legislator A Revanth Reddy.
While he himself is among the aspirants to run for the Lok Sabha from Malkajgiri, Revanth Reddy said he would work for Naidu in the constituency if he prefers to contest from that constituency."As it is likely that Naidu would contest from Malkajgiri, I will be one of his campaign managers," added Revanth Reddy.BJP leaders said it was important that Naidu be on their side in the post-poll scenario while the party faces an uphill task to win over the coalition partners with Narendra Modi being the prime ministerial nominee.
Veteran BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu told TOI that the coalition scenario would get clearer once there was clarity on Telangana, which he expects after the Parliament session ends. "We are waiting for the Telangana issue to be settled before going for the formalities of the coalition. Andhra Pradesh is one of the most important states for us because we have strong old partners here," said Venkaiah Naidu.BJP insiders said internal political dynamics in the party was also aimed at reining in Modi. They said Naidu's prime ministerial candidature was strongly being projected by the camps opposed to the Gujarat chief minister. They said leaders including L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, and Arun Jaitley are in touch with Naidu.
As Naidu called on Advani and Sushma in Delhi on Tuesday, the BJP leaders said there was more to the meeting as it is being perceived as the TDP leader's bid to stop the Congress from going ahead with the bifurcation of AP for its political gains. .Sources said Naidu was in touch with the JD(U), which is vehemently opposing Modi as prime minister
Going by the positive response he was getting, the BJP leaders said Naidu would prove a good leader to rope in the coalition partners in the post-poll scenario.As united AP has 42 seats, the TDP is hopeful of emerging the single largest party in Seemandhra, which sends 25 MPs to the Lok Sabha. The party is pinning its hope on Chandrabau Naidu who is claiming to have turned the tide on the division issue by convincing the BJP not to support the Telangana Bill in its present form.