A day after the Telugu Desam Party decided to quit the Union Cabinet, while putting the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance on notice period, politics in the state of Andhra Pradesh is only expected to undergo some churning. However, the historic low in ties between allies TDP and the BJP may not work well for the BJP in the bifurcated Andhra Pradesh and its party president Amit Shah's dream to breach the southern states, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, apart from the two Telugu states.
BJP first found an ally in TDP in 1998, when then Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu lent outside support to the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. A year later, both party's forged a pre-poll alliance and swept the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
The elections were a historic for the BJP as it could win seven Lok Sabha and 10 Assembly seats — its highest ever tally. The victory was credited to the Vajpayee wave, the post-Kargil War nationalist sentiment and Naidu's personal popularity. The election also saw the transfer of votes between the TDP and BJP, which helped the party register its best tally ever.
After TDP left NDA, the BJP found it difficult to sustain its winning momentum as the party could win only two seats in the 2009 Assembly elections and none in the Lok Sabha elections, which were held concurrently.
TDP only ally of BJP in south
TDP, as a matter of fact, is the only ally of the BJP south of Vindhyas. For a party which aspires to form state governments in the south, an uncharted territory except for Karnataka, BJP needs TDP in order to survive in the bifurcated state.
With no strong local leaders in the coastal and Rayalseema region, BJP's fortune is invariably linked with TDP's. Moreover, the saffron party was comparatively stronger in the Telangana region, which now is the state of Telangana.
In fact, TDP was the first party to enter into an alliance with the NDA in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The BJP's weakness can be gauged by a statement made my TDP politburo member Gali Muddu Krishnanma Naidu, "“They (BJP) may grow but it will not be sufficient for them to come to power. Ultimately, they will have to join hands with the TDP."
In a 2015 Mint article, Andhra BJP leader K Haribabu agreed that the party was weak in the state and that it needed to build its organisational structure.
Rajya Sabha math
While the BJP can let go of the TDP in the Lok Sabha, given its comfortable majority in the Lower House, that cannot be the case in the Rajya Sabha, where the Amit Shah-led party is in a minority.
While the BJP will have 73 MPs after the 23 March elections to the Upper House, it will still fall short of the majority mark of 123 seats.
Even as an alliance, the NDA will fall short of the majority in the Rajya Sabha despite the uptick in numbers after 23 March elections. Currently, the NDA has 82 MPs and from April onward, the number is expected to go to at least 97.
The deficit in the Rajya Sabha makes the TDP a key ally of the BJP. While the TDP currently has 6 Rajya Sabha MPs, it is expected to win two seats in the Upper House on 23 March. The eight MPs of the party can play a crucial role during passages of key bills in the Upper House.
Meanwhile, the NDA is expected to win a majority in the Rajya Sabha only by 2020. With the exit of the TDP, things will be more difficult for the BJP-led NDA.
After weeks of speculation over the fate of ties between allies TDP and the BJP, Naidu on Wednesday finally announced that two Union ministers of the TDP will resign on Thursday, adding that his party will also come out of the NDA later.
Ashok Gajapati Raju, the Union civil aviation minister, and YS Chowdary, the junior minister of science and technology, are the two TDP representatives in the Modi Cabinet.
Ties between TDP and the BJP have been strained for a long time over alleged neglect of the state in the Union Budget. The state government has also been at loggerheads with the BJP-led NDA at the Centre over concerns related to the implementation of the promises made in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.
The party began relaunched its demand for Special Category Status for Andhra Pradesh after blaming the Centre for failing to implement the special assistance measures it announced in September 2016 in lieu of granting special status.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Mar 08, 2018 11:09 AM