TDP president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has decided to support ruling Congress in the Karnataka Assembly elections that will be held on 12 May, while neighbouring Telangana Chief Minister and TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has extended his backing to JD(S) led by former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda.
Both CMs of the Telugu states are supporting different Karnataka parties for different reasons. Naidu has vowed to teach a lesson to the BJP for ignoring him and denying special status to Andhra; KCR is rallying behind Deve Gowda for his future political ambitions. Not just lending moral and vocal support to these parties, the Telugu CMs are likely to pump in funds and logistical resources to their Kannada friends.
Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister K.E. Krishnamoorthy on Wednesday held a media conference in Bangalore and announced that TDP would see to it that the BJP was stopped from coming to power in Karnataka. He didn’t mention the name of Congress, but said that his party would back whoever can stop BJP from coming to power in Karnataka and remarked that everyone knew which party it was.
On Friday, senior TDP MP and film actor M. Murali Mohan openly said that TDP would back Congress in Karnataka as the party had joined the stir for special category status to Andhra. Murali Mohan hinted that TDP would actively participate in several meetings in Karnataka and campaign for Congress candidates in some key constituencies in the state.
KCR went to Bangalore on Friday and met Deve Gowda and announced later that he would campaign for JD(S) in May. KCR, flanked by Gowda and his son and former CM Kumaraswamy, made an appeal through media to Telugu speaking voters from Telangana to vote for JD(S) as it would strengthen his efforts to float a secular front in national politics.
Of the total voters of 4.96 crore in Karnataka, the number of Telugus or Telugu speaking people is estimated to be 45 lakh on the lower side and 60 lakh on the higher side. They are mostly concentrated on border districts from Bangalore in the south to Bidar on north. TDP has a strong presence in Bangalore city as well as surrounding areas, though the party hasn’t seriously contested the state polls so far. Those who migrated from coastal Andhra and Rayala Seema districts of AP occupy key positions in business, mining, education and agriculture sectors. Former mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy and his brothers in Bellary are a few examples.
The ruling BJP earlier used to get the help of Telugu speaking voters and Andhra settlers in Bellary district to win a majority of the seats there. Several rich farmers from coastal Andhra had migrated to the state five to six decades ago and settled in areas where new irrigation projects came up and expanded to other business areas too. In Bangalore city alone, Telugu speaking voters are estimated to be around 15 lakh and their financial clout is in much demand from all the major political parties. Most of these financially rich Telugus hail from coastal Andhra and are close to TDP. A social media and IT wing of TDP has been campaigning against the BJP in Karnataka and BJP leaders had already complained to the Election Commission on it. TDP MLA Bonda Uma Maheswara Rao told The Sunday Guardian on Friday that the party’s decision to defeat the BJP in Karnataka was meant to teach a lesson to the party that betrayed the people of AP on the special status issue and special package funds. “We want to show what we (TDP) can do to them (BJP) electorally,” said Rao.