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Desam shock for BJP in Andhra

Hyderabad, April 17: The Telugu Desam Party today announced a snapping of ties with the BJP for the May 7 vote in Seemandhra’s 175 Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha constituencies.

The alliance for the April 30 polls in Telangana’s 119 Assembly and 17 parliamentary seats, however, remains. Filing of nominations is over in Telangana but in Seemandhra, they close only on Sunday.

BJP leader Prakash Javadekar, however, said that “nothing is lost” and the central leadership would review the situation tomorrow.

Desam chief N. Chandrababu Naidu announced the break-up at a poll rally in Vizianagaram, saying the BJP was fielding very weak candidates and that this would hurt the NDA and help its rivals.

Besides, he suggested, the Desam’s Lok Sabha candidates would suffer if the BJP fielded weak candidates from their Assembly segments. Naidu hinted that RSS interference in the BJP’s candidate selection was to blame.

Naidu has given the BJP four parliamentary and 13 Assembly seats in Seemandhra. But the alliance has been shaky right from the outset.

One key reason is the possibility of the BJP fielding defector D. Purandeswari, a former Congress Union minister, from Visakhapatnam. Sources said Naidu had personally requested the BJP not to give the prime seat to his bete noire.

Officially, Purandeswari is supposed to contest from Rajampet in YSR Congress stronghold Kadapa where she is pitted against former Congress colleague and minister Sai Pratap. But sources say she wants Visakhapatnam.

Naidu’s announcement came after a tour of the districts where party cadres were protesting against the handover of key seats like Rajahmundry to the BJP.

Besides, Chiranjeevi’s brother and actor Pawan Kalyan, who has floated the Jana Sena, has suddenly demanded seven seats after initially saying his party would support the Desam instead of contesting. If denied, he says, he will field his candidates as Independents.

Kalyan is particularly angry at Naidu’s refusal to give the Vijayawada seat to mall owner and film industry baron P. Vara Prasad. Dumping the BJP will allow Naidu to placate Kalyan with a few seats.