TDP quits NDA: Centre's strength comes down to 314 from 336 in LS, Shiv Sena support gives BJP breathing space
Equations within the NDA aren't particularly rosy. While TDP has announced its exit, Shiv Sena did so earlier last year, while PDP's ties with the government are also on shaky grounds. RLSP is also in talks with the Opposition
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) on Friday decided to call off its four-year alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and pulled out of the Central government. In doing so, it became the first major party (in terms of seats) to exit the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that had stormed to power with a huge majority following the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The TDP has 16 MPs, and it said it would move a no-confidence motion against the Central government. In doing so, it would be following in the footsteps of rival Andhra Pradesh party, the YSR Congress, which has also said it would be moving a no-confidence motion against the Centre. The two Andhra parties have been miffed with the BJP following the latter's inability to grant special status for the state.
The NDA had stormed to power with 336 seats in 2014, of which the BJP alone claimed 282 seats. However, a series of bypolls that went against the saffron party meant that its tally in the Lok Sabha currently stands at 274 seats. When one adds the 11 allies the BJP still has by its side — Shiv Sena, JD(U), Apna Dal, LJP, SAD, RLSP, PDP, PMK, SWP, NPP and AINR Congress — the tally rises to 314. If the TDP can be persuaded to come around once again, this could rise to 330, a comfortable majority.
However, equations with the existing allies aren't particularly rosy. In particular with Shiv Sena, the largest non-BJP constituent of the NDA. If the Sena follows TDP by backing out, the figure of 314 will go down to 296, just 23 more than the magic figure of 273, and the BJP can no longer be certain of its future.
The Shiv Sena did announce its decision to part ways earlier last year, before reversing this call. The PDP's ties with the ruling government are also on shaky grounds, while the RLSP is already in talks to join the Opposition in Bihar.
All of which mean the BJP's comfortable lead could be in a spot of bother. Here's a brief analysis of the relations between the saffron party and its various allies:
PDP: The PDP has two MPs in Parliament. This is one alliance that is on shaky ground, especially after Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti sacked former finance minister Haseeb Drabu, once considered the architect of stitching together the alliance with the BJP in the state.
Shiv Sena: The Shiv Sena is the BJP's strongest ally, having 18 MPs to its name. The Sena and BJP are also allies in the Maharashtra state government where BJP's Devendra Fadnavis has endured a tumultuous run as chief minister. However, the two parties contested municipal elections separately last year. Earlier this year, however, the Sena announced its decision to part ways and go it alone in both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in 2019. But while it reserved its decision, choosing to stay in the government for now, things are always unpredictable with the Sena-BJP alliance.
SAD: The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is another long-time ally of the BJP and is the one ally that has consistently stayed by the saffron party's side. The SAD has four MPs in Parliament, but things aren't looking too bright for the SAD-BJP alliance either. In Assembly elections to Punjab last year, the Congress stormed to power, winning 77 out of 117 seats in the Assembly.
JD(U): At the time the Lok Sabha elections were contested in 2014, the JD(U) was in the Opposition. But following RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav's conviction in the fodder scam, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar defected to the NDA fold. The party brings with it two MPs. However, the special status row might come back to haunt the NDA in a second state now, with Nitish too demanding special status for Bihar, even saying he hopes this will be taken seriously following the TDP's exit.
Furthermore, a separate faction of the JD(U), led by Sharad Yadav, has moved away from the party. It remains to be seen how a vertical split in the JD(U) affects the party's chances of staying in the alliance.
RLSP: The little-known Rashtriya Lok Samata Party contested three seats from Bihar in 2014 and was successful in all three, riding on the back of the massive Narendra Modi wave sweeping through the country. However, with the churn in Indian politics being felt most keenly in Bihar, this is another party that's likely to defect away from BJP. On Thursday, after the RJD won two bypolls in Bihar, it said the RLSP would quit the NDA to join an RJD-led 'grand alliance', along the lines of the Mahagathbandhan that swept Bihar elections in 2015.
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