TDP eyeing south Odisha to fulfill ‘national party’ ambitions

Bhubaneswar: The Telgu Desam Party (TDP), which rules Andhra Pradesh, is preparing a blueprint to target Telugu voters in Odisha to strengthen its organization in neighbouring Odisha as part of its efforts to extend its footprint beyond Andhra and fulfill its ambition of becoming a national party.

With the focus on the 2019 general elections, TDP is seeking to make its presence felt in Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. As per TDP’s road map for the 2019 general elections, the party is targeting Southern Odisha where a sizeable proportion of the population speaks Telugu.

“Especially in Odisha, we have a good number of Telugu speaking people in places like Berhampur, Khurda Road etc. These are the places where Telugu speaking people are high in percentage. We want to support those people. In the upcoming elections, we are going to prepare a plan for it. We also want to increase our presence beyond Andhra Pradesh so that we get the recognition as a national party at the earliest,” said TDP legislator, V Ganesh Kumar.

“TDP members came here and held discussions. They also discussed a proposal to set up their offices in various cities. We want them to come here as it will foster competition,” said Berhampur resident Durgaprasad.

“Chandra Babu Naidu and his party, the TDP believes in work and we also believe in such an approach. If TDP comes to this Telugu-dominated area of South Odisha, there will be better development,” said another Berhampur resident ET Rao.

Experts believe that Odisha, especially Southern Odisha, is a lucrative target for TDP given the density of Telugu speaking voters in the region. The density of Telugu voters is high in five Southern Odisha district spanning across 29 assembly constituencies. In past electiinons, Telugu voters have proven decisive in at least two constituencies in Gajapati district, three in Rayagada, three in Koraput, and two in Nabarangpur.

However, Rajya Sabha candidate of BJD from South Odisha N Bhaskar Rao said “I don’t think that TDP or any other party will have any effect on BJD. They will be disappointed and I would suggest them not to come here. They won’t be able win a single seat – I am telling now and you will see tomorrow.”

Notably, TDP is the ruling party in Andhra Pradesh and has 19 members in Parliament. Moreover, TDP is an ally of BJP at the Centre. Hence, whether TDP will join hands with BJP to foray into Odisha also remains to be seen.