However, as the Modi government has now come under the attack of the opposition, Advani camp has found a new opportunity to assert its dominance in the BJP once again.
On Tuesday evening Telugu Desam Party finally decided to opt out of the Modi government. Though it was the first ever ally to withdraw from the NDA government, the move did not come as a much surprise. For months, BJP and TDP have been at loggerheads over the demand of Special Status to Andhra Pradesh. TDP said it felt betrayed by the BJP, as they had promised in 2014 that if the NDA government comes to power they will give Special Status to the state of Andhra Pradesh, however, even after four years of the government, Special Status just remains a distant dream for the state.
What is the Special Status to Andhra Pradesh and why do they want it?
After the bifurcation of the state of Andhra Pradesh as Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, the state needed a financial aid to survive and build its economy and infrastructure including new government building such as assembly halls, courts etc. It also proposed a new capital to the state called ‘Amravati’ promising to make it the first of its kind Smart City in India. The Andhra Pradesh reorganization act passed in the parliament in February 2014 however, only guarantees the monetary assistance to the state from Centre. It does not explicitly mention the Special Category status to be given to the state.
The act under the ‘Revenue Distribution’ section, states that the Central can allot appropriate funds to the State of Andhra Pradesh. The act also included a provision for special packages to the underdeveloped areas of the state. However, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while addressing in Rajya Sabha assured that the state of Andhra Pradesh will also be granted a Special Category status. “Along with legislation a Special Category Status will be extended to the successor state of Andhra Pradesh for a period of five years,” Manmohan Singh had asserted during the discussion on Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Bill on February 20, 2014.
BJP which stormed to power later same year, however, iterated that Special category status cannot be given considering the recommendation of 14th Finance Commission. TDP, which is also the second biggest ally of BJP in NDA with 16 Lok Sabha and 6 Rajya Sabha seats refutes the claim saying BJP which was in opposition at the time of introduction of the act, also agreed to the Special Category demand but is now backing from it.
What Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister says:
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had been in a fix on whether to pull out of NDA government or not. The increasing pressure from opposition YSR Congress and Pawan Kalyan’s Jan Sena had made the situation even difficult for Chandrababu Naidu who also had to face the disappointment at the hands of Centre’s Modi government. While announcing the TDP’s withdrawal from Modi government, Naidu said, “The centre has failed to fulfil the promises it made at the time of bifurcation of the state. Thus, we have decided to pull out of the government.”
Hitting out at the FM for his comments that “sentiments will not decide the quantum of funds”, he said the comments give the impression that Andhra Pradesh is asking for too much. He added, “I made 29 trips to Delhi. I met several ministers and Prime Minister but to no avail. I am not angry with anybody.”
Even though the TDP has pulled out of the government, it still has not yet made clear whether it will also leave NDA and contest separately in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
How will TDP-BJP fallout reflect on BJP’s electoral maths?
There are total 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh. Currently, TDP has 16 of them while BJP has only 4 seats in the state. The vote share of the BJP was also less than that of TDP. While TDP had a vote share of 29.10%, BJP had the vote share of 8.50%. Chandrababu Naidu before the fallout had ensured that the tussle between both of them is visible even on the public platform. The Centre’s denial of Special Category status is also likely to go against the BJP as it will be regarded as Centre’s coldness towards the issues of Andhra Pradesh.
For BJP which is already facing a serious challenge in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, losing the allies from Andhra Pradesh is a major setback.
As we had pointed out in our previous article “Was BJP Fair to NDA”, Most allies regard Modi’s leadership as Autocratic one. Modi is also popular for his diktat-type functioning inside the party. Virtually, all important portfolios are indirectly handled by Modi. From Country’s Finance to Defence and Home to External Affairs the Ministries are dominated by Modi. The existence of Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh and Nirmala Sitharaman seems to be limited to countering opposition’s accusations, while the Supreme Commander overshadows them.
In case of the NDA allies too what is generally regarded as ‘Modi Magic’ has swallowed the small regional parties. Though NDA allies are represented in the cabinet their total number does not even reach 10. Apart from the Modi, there is no other leader who possibly is the alternate face of the government.
Is this an opportunity for the Advani camp?
It is more than evident that the senior leadership of the BJP is not happy with the Modi-Shah duo and their way of functioning. It is well known that Modi’s name for Prime Ministerial candidature of BJP was picked in Party’s National Executive Meet in Goa in 2013 in Advani’s absence. After Modi, came to power, he re-structured the party, sending Advani-once BJP’s hero, to Margadarshak Mandal. It was obvious that Modi did not want Advani to be the hurdle in his path.
However, as the Modi government has now come under the attack of the opposition, Advani camp has found a new opportunity to assert its dominance in the BJP once again. The locals of Advani like Shatrughan Sinha, Ram Jethmalani, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha are leaving no stone unturned to criticize the Modi government. The recent TDP-BJP fallout is just the opportunity the Advani camp needed.
The soured relation of Modi with the allies will make it difficult for BJP to unite the NDA constituents. Here, the Advani camp can play a crucial role using its good relationship with the allies to keep the coalition glued.
As an independent media platform, we do not take advertisements from governments and corporate houses. It is you, our readers, who have supported us on our journey to do honest and unbiased journalism. Please contribute, so that we can continue to do the same in future.