Narendra Modi govt has the numbers, but no-confidence motions by YSR Congress, TDP will mean BJP can't sit idle

Andhra Pradesh, which was instrumental in dislodging the first NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee by contributing the maximum to UPA kitty in 2004, is yet again triggering anti-Narendra Modi consolidation. Though the no-confidence motion moved separately by TDP and the YSR Congress will not in any way upset the NDA government as it enjoys comfortable majority, its significance in terms of perception and political optics cannot be simply dismissed.

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu. PTI

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu. PTI

The special status issue has certainly turned the political heat on the Modi-led second NDA government. Emboldened by the spectacular successes in the recent by-elections in Uttar Pradesh, the anti-BJP forces do not wish to lose any opportunity to embarrass the Modi regime. The Andhra issue especially the exit of key ally TDP from NDA came in handy for the opposition. Many of these parties responded enthusiastically to the no-confidence motion moved by Andhra parties for their own reasons. Yet, it strengthens the cause of Andhra Pradesh.

However, the BJP is not ready to take it lying down. The party has already begun the firefighting exercise by reaching out to the disgruntled allies like Shiv Sena. On the other hand, the party began a blistering attack on Chandrababu Naidu calling his moves as political opportunism. But, such comments may cut no ice with the people of Andhra Pradesh as Naidu is on the right side of public sentiment and the not just the TDP, the entire Andhra Pradesh political spectrum is up in arms against perceived injustice to the state under the Modi dispensation.

Left with no option, after the formal exit of TDP from the ruling NDA, the BJP tried to put up a brave face. Reacting to TDP's decision, the BJP spokesperson, GVL Narasimha Rao said that it is a great opportunity for the party to grow on its own in Andhra Pradesh. Attacking its former ally, the BJP spokesperson further claimed that the TDP has decided to quit NDA to divert people's attention from the failures of Naidu government. But, the assertion from the BJP's national spokesperson is at complete variance with the pronouncements of BJP ministers in Naidu cabinet. Speaking in the state Legislative Assembly on his resignation from the Naidu cabinet, the minister belonging to BJP, Kamineni Srinivas had all praise for the TDP rule. Thus, the BJP is a clearly divided house when it comes to disowning the government headed by the TDP-BJP coalition in the state. However, in a bid to stage a united fight against its former ally, the BJP has reportedly called for the meeting of Andhra Pradesh party leaders on Saturday. Thus, more scathing attack from the BJP is yet to come. This may further raise the political temperature in the state. But, it will not in any way liberate the BJP from the self-imposed isolation in the state politics.

Thanks to the treatment meted out by the BJP-led Central government, the ruling TDP and the opposition YSR Congress had to converge at least on this point.

What made the rival Andhra Parties unite to express no-confidence in the Modi government? The special status was presented as the only hope of rebuilding the truncated state. As the 'special' sentiment flows thick and fast through the Krishna-Godavari rivers, the warring political parties of Andhra Pradesh have no option except to unite. Both the Central and state BJP failed to sell its version of the 'special' narrative making the entire Andhra political spectra to turn hostile to saffron party.

The doomsday political narrative built around bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in the run-up to 2014 and later especially for political reasons created a strong sentiment for special category status to the beleaguered state. As such doomsday narrative still pervades Andhra political discourse the special status promise remains politically sensitive. Hence, the regional parties are constrained to co-operate against the political arrogance displayed by so-called national parties.

In a bid to tide over the Andhra people's anger due to its complicity in arbitrary bifurcation resulting in a strong perception of injustice, the BJP itself authored special status and made the then UPA regime to accept its demand. During the 2014 campaign, Modi's Unique Selling Proposition (USP) during the Andhra Pradesh campaign was that BJP authored special status and shall implement it for 15 years as the UPA promised for five years only.

The BJP spokespersons participating in live debates across different channels were quick to say that Naidu was never a trusted ally. But, such a criticism cannot be applied only to Naidu or TDP. Most of the regional parties display such vacillation. The party that took pride in embracing Nitish Kumar subverting people's mandate for anti-BJP coalition in Bihar cannot be justified in making such a tirade on Naidu. However, this invective on TDP supremo is a deliberate ploy to divert the attention from the denial of things due for Andhra Pradesh.

Andhra political developments cannot be seen in isolation to understand their national implication. The BJP started facing political and electoral reverses. That the BJP allies are sulking is evident from Nitish joining the special status bandwagon demanding Centre to accord a similar status to Bihar. Anti-BJP forces are converging and consolidating for reasons of their own. All this may not be so lethal for Modi at this point in time, but they do not augur well for BJP at a time the party has to hit rather unfavourable political terrain in next round of Assembly elections later this year leading to the 2019 grand gala show.

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Updated Date: Mar 16, 2018 15:38:26 IST

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