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Desam-BJP deal amid lower-rung dismay

Naidu after announcing the alliance in Hyderabad. (PTI)

Hyderabad, April 6: The Telugu Desam Party today returned to the NDA fold after 10 years, scripting an alliance with the BJP amid heartburn among both parties’ local leaderships and cadres over the seat shares.

Desam chief Chandrababu Naidu had initially had reservations about renewing his NDA ties, having been convinced that his 2004 rout owed to a mass flight of Muslim votes to the Congress.

The BJP was eager to have him back to bolster Narendra Modi’s status within the party and counter the theory that he would not be able to pull in new allies because of the stigma of the 2002 riots.

The alliance was unveiled here after two weeks of turbulent negotiations, with a peeved Chandrababu — who has had to concede more seats than he wanted — refusing to visit Delhi and take part in a grand announcement.

Under the deal, the BJP will contest eight of Telangana’s 17 Lok Sabha seats and five of Seemandhra’s 25. It has got 47 of Telangana’s 119 Assembly seats and 15 of Seemandhra’s 175.

“The party cadres are disturbed. We seem to have overestimated the BJP’s strength,” said a senior Desam leader from Telangana, Erraballi Dayakar Rao.

Both parties have avoided declaring candidates to gain time and allow the anger among their cadres to ebb.

While local BJP leaders wanted to go it alone, many Desam officials and cadres had rushed to Chandrababu’s home pleading that he not give away choice seats.

The Seemandhra and Telangana BJP chiefs, Kambhampati Haribabu and Kishan Reddy, stayed away from today’s announcement at Chandrababu’s home. The briefing was attended by BJP central leader Prakash Javadekar and Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujral.

Reddy explained: “I stayed back to pacify disappointed cadres.”