Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Brahmapur/Jeypore, Oct 25:
The more than three decades old Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh being keen to spread its wings to secure the national party tag to enhance its political leverage with the support from Telugus in other states, the latest in its scheme of things is Odisha.
The idea is to tap into the sizeable Telugu population in the southern Odisha districts. In the first phase, the party is all set to begin its membership drive in three districts covering three Lok Sabha and 21 Assembly seats.
The TDP for Andhra Pradesh’s new capital Amravati has collected soil and water from Parlakhemundi to the chants of Jai Amravati on the streets. This is perhaps the start of Odisha mission of the TDP.
The party is eyeing the Telugu speaking population of Odisha and has prepared a roadmap which is initially focussing on the three Lok Sabha seats of Brahmapur, Nabarangpur and Koraput and 21 Assembly seats. With Dusshera over, the party is soon going to launch its 90-day membership drive.
“Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is planning to launch the TDP in Odisha after Dusshera. We will launch the membership drive to enrol the Telugu speaking areas of Odisha. Telugu Desam Party is already a national party,” said Haribandhu Naidu, a TDP leader speaking to reporters on his party’s ambitions in Odisha.
The party is mainly targeting Ganjam, Gajapati, Malkangiri, Koraput, Nabarangpur and Rayagada districts of Odisha which have about 30 lakh Telugu speaking population. Telugu speaking people in these areas too are excited over the party’s move.
“All like Chandrababu Naidu. Many Odia people also like him. Many have their sympathies for him,” said M Kameswari, an office bearer of Andhra Mahila Samaj.
“Since he is running Andhra successfully, he will certainly run Odisha well. We feel he will work for our betterment. We hope he will do well here too,” said a Telugu person in halting Odia.
Sources said the party is in touch with many senior leaders in these districts. The party has plans to for its state level committee in Odisha early next year.
However, the ruling BJD and the opposition Congress both have claimed that the TDP’s move will hardly have any impact in the state.
“Neither me nor anyone from the Telugu community will join the party on linguistic basis. Language is not going to affect our relations with my state, neither mine nor anyone’s from the Telugu community. The TDP is not going to benefit in any way out of this move,” said N Bhaskar Rao, a local BJD leader belonging to the Telugu community commenting on the TDP’s move to launch membership drive in Odisha.
“Even if the TDP puts up a candidate, it’s in no way going to affect the Congress here,” said Tara Prasad Bahinipati, Congress MLA from Jeypore and Opposition chief whip in the Odisha Assembly.
A few days back, K Ram Mohan Naidu TDP MP from Srikakulam had visited Odisha to study the party’s prospects in Odisha.
However, a similar move by Chandrababu Naidu’s father-in-law N T Rama Rao in 1994 had failed.