Has God tempered the wind for the shorn lamb? For the TDP, which remained rudderless as to what it should tell the electorate to seek its votes in the elections to Telangana Assembly, the issue of non-bailable arrest warrants by a Maharashtra Magistrate court against N Chandrababu Naidu has come as a godsend, providing him an opportunity to consolidate his position in both the Telugu states but also to play a crucial role in Delhi in the days to come.

The development helps the TDP, which is on its unsteady legs in Telangana, in providing an answer to it as to how it should approach the elections. The TDP has remained at sea till now, not knowing how to convince people that the TDP would protect their interests since, for long, they were fed the notion that the TDP was against Telangana. Naidu’s two-eye philosophy – one eye representing Telangana and the other, Andhra – at the height of Telangana movement, was ridiculed by the Telangana protagonists then that it was a statement which smacked of rank opportunism.

In those turbulent days of Telangana movement, Naidu could not cut much ice with people of Telangana even on Babli issue for which non-bailable arrest warrants had been issued, now. Naidu led the Babli expedition into Maharashtra in 2010, ahead of by-elections for 12 seats in Telangana. It was necessitated by the resignation of the then 10 TRS MLAs, one TDP and one BJP protesting against the terms of reference of Justice BN Srikrishna Committee appointed to suggest a solution to the demand for bifurcation of the state.

The TDP not only lost all the seats but security deposits as well, while the TRS improved its tally by one – it won 11 seats while the BJP won the other. The issue of arrest warrants no doubt has helped the Telugu Desam Party in AP which has been looking for a fresh issue to pummel the BJP. The decision taken by the party that Naidu and others would respect law and attend the court is also a strategy to derive maximum sympathy from the people of both the states.

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TDP hopes that in AP, it could succeed for the treatment meted out to a leader who has been fighting for special category status and in Telangana, for the harassment to Naidu who fought for the interests of Telangana by undertaking a perilous journey into Maharashtra to stage a demonstration at Babli project site (protesting the increase in its height) which he contended would harm the interests of north Telangana people.

Not losing much time, TDP, keen on making political capital out of the predicament, went to town, calling protests against the witch-hunt that the BJP had unleashed against Naidu for stepping out of NDA and for going after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s jugular for not honouring the commitments made in the AP State Reorganisation Act, 2014.

Now that they have an issue, the Telangana leaders are making hay while the sun is still shining to slam the Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao for not caring for the interests of the Telangana state as much as Chandrababu Naidu did and for not doing anything for vacation of the arrest warrants against his AP counterpart since, the latter, after all, had fought for Telangana people.

The Telangana leaders have begun in right earnest in reconstructing the agitation that Naidu had led in 2010 and how the Maharashtra Police had treated him and his colleagues by detaining them in a shed. Now that the ammunition is ready for TDP, the party, after smoking the peace pipe with the Congress, is now engaged in talks with it on seat sharing in Telangana.

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The TDP believes it has enough cadres to help its candidates win the elections in Khammam and in constituencies around Hyderabad if the Congress joins its forces. Though talks have so far not come to any meaningful conclusion, the TDP in all likelihood may get about 15 seats where they are really strong since the grand old party does not want to spoil its prospects of coming to power in allotting seats to the TDP where the Congress leaders are strong.

It might take some more time before the alliance with the Congress comes to any definite shape as there are forces not only in the Congress but also in other outfits like the Prof M Kondaram’s Jana Samiti for whom Chandrababu Naidu is a persona non grata.

The TJS wonders how the people would react to the presence of the TDP in the alliance since the entire Telangana movement was based not only on the adamancy of the UPA in granting statehood to Telangana but also on how Naidu had done injustice to the region during his stint in power for more than nine years in the combined state of AP.

In fact, more than the Congress, it was the TDP which the Telangana protagonists – KCR and his one-time protégé Kodandaram -had targeted. Now the Congress wants to join hands with Kodandaram who has broken away from KCR and formed his own party.

As elections are still some time away in AP, Naidu is spending more time on Telangana, straightening out policy bumps and crisis points. Recently he had said that TDP is a historic necessity to remain active in Telangana and that all efforts should be made to revive the party since its roots are still intact in Telangana soil.

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If Naidu wins a couple of seats in Telangana, it may not be of much help to him in Telangana but would definitely help him gain new strength that he needs, to show to the people, that he was not down and out in Telangana state and if nurtured carefully, the TDP had the chances of rising like the phoenix from ashes.

At present, for Naidu, Congress is not a pariah which it was earlier and he does not feel shy to be seen with the leaders of the grand old party. Naidu had even shaken hands with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi when he ran into him during the swearing-in ceremony of HD Kumaraswami in Bengaluru and tried to pat him.

This is indicative of his eagerness to have a political engagement with the Congress at the national level where he has plans of dethroning the BJP with the help of regional parties and depending on the kind of formation that evolves after the Lok Sabha elections, he would want to play cards.

If the TDP manages to retrieve its lost ground in Telangana in the ensuing assembly elections, it is sure to bid for a larger slice of the cake in Lok Sabha elections. Naidu needs as many parliamentary seats as possible in his kitty to be able to call shots at the Centre after the general elections.#KhabarLive