Andhra's Telugu Desam Party Pulls out of NDA

Upping its ante, the party chief Chandrababu Naidu decided to move a no-confidence motion against the central dispensation.

Jolting the complacency of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), one of its prominent southern allies in Andhra Pradesh, today withdrew its support to the central government. The decision came in the wake of the Modi government’s refusal to grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh.

The state’s chief minister and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu took the decision in an emergency teleconference with his party politburo members and MPs.

Naidu’s disenchantment with the BJP government and the TDP’s growing rift from the NDA reached a critical point after two of its ministers, P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Y. S. Chowdary, pulled out from the cabinet on March 8. What remained to be seen was whether Naidu would make good his threat of quitting the coalition.

Now that the chief minister has taken that decisive step, more political churn seems imminent.

Yesterday, the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) put in a notice for moving a no-confidence motion against the Modi government in the Lok Sabha. In light of its decision, the TDP will now move a separate no-confidence motion, to highlight the central government’s injustice to the state.

While the TDP has 16 MPs, the YSRCP has nine. Though these numbers pose no immediate threat to the Modi government’s survival (given the BJP’s majority in Lok Sabha), the revolt of the TDP is no doubt a reason to worry for the ruling party. Especially given that the TDP’s exit decision comes close on the heels of the BJP’s humiliating defeat in Gorakhpur and Phulpur – two high-profile constituencies in UP.

Notwithstanding the negative implications, the BJP, however, continued to put up a brave face. The party’s national spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao tweeted, “People of Andhra Pradesh have now realised that the TDP is resorting to lies to cover up its inept & inert governance.Far from being a threat, TDP’s exit is a timely opportunity for the BJP to grow in AP.”

TDP will now inform BJP president Amit Shah and other NDA constituents of its decision. Besides accusing the central government of reneging on its promise to accord special category status to Andhra Pradesh, Naidu has also charged the BJP with using Jagan Mohan Reddy’s party (YSRCP) and actor Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party to marginalise the TDP in Andhra politics.

Naidu accused the BJP of deploying the same tactic it did in Tamil Nadu, pitting one faction against another. Last month, Tamil Nadu’s deputy chief minister O. Panneerselvam had said that it was Modi who had urged him to merge his faction of the AIADMK with that headed by Edappadi K. Palaniswami so that he could be part of the AIADMK government.

Meanwhile, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been urging all anti-BJP forces to cobble together a joint front, tweeted: “I welcome the TDP’s decision to leave the NDA. The current situation warrants such action to save the country from disaster.”