Alliance on rocks?
TDP,BJP looking for excuses to part ways; may fight next elections independently
It’s almost a year since the Telugu Desam Party came to power in Andhra Pradesh in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party. Both the parties shared bonhomie before and after the 2014 General Election – TDP joined the NDA government at the Centre, while the BJP joined the Chandrababu Naidu government in the State.
But now, the marriage of convenience between the TDP and the BJP appears to be on the rocks, going by the assessment of political analysts, who say the parties may part ways much before the 2019 General Election.
Reason: the TDP is of the view that continuing alliance with the BJP would only prove counter-productive for it in the next elections. It has apparently realised that resentment is growing among the people of the State with the NDA government not coming to the rescue of the cash-strapped State either through a special financial package or by granting special status. And, if the TDP continues to ally with the BJP, there is every possibility of people rejecting both parties in the next elections.
The BJP, too, does not find much benefit from continuing the alliance with the TDP. There is an undercurrent among leaders and cadre that it would be better to grow into an independent political force in Andhra Pradesh, rather than playing second fiddle to the TDP.
The party leadership is said to be under tremendous pressure from the local cadre to break away from the alliance with the TDP, considering there is immense potential for the BJP to grow into No. 2 position, given the pathetic position of the Congress party and the uncertain future of the YSR Congress party.
The TDP was compelled to forge an alliance with the BJP to fight elections in Andhra Pradesh in the backdrop of the bifurcation of the integrated State.
TDP ignoring BJP cadre at all levels
BJP ignoring TDP after getting absolute majority
TDP not taking BJP into confidence in developmental and welfare works
People of AP are unhappy with Modi government
BJP wants to grow as an independent force in southern States
No special status to AP and no sufficient funds for new capital
BJP has chance to become No. 2 in AP
Alliance with BJP may prove counter-productive to the TDP in next elections
A shrewd politician that he is, Chandrababu Naidu had cashed in on the Narendra Modi wave sweeping across the nation and rode to power in the residuary Andhra Pradesh, though political pundits had predicted that YSR Congress party headed by Y S Jaganmohan Reddy would win hands down. The victory margin for the TDP-BJP combine was very less – there was just 1.6 per cent difference in the votes polled by the alliance and the YSR Congress party.
Apart from the Modi factor, another main reason as to why the voters of Andhra Pradesh had voted for the TDP-BJP combine was the promises made by national BJP leaders like M Venkaiah Naidu on providing ‘special status’ to AP, besides announcing special financial package for the backward areas of the State and taking up Polavaram as national project.
They were carried away by the fight put up by Venkaiah Naidu in the Rajya Sabha demanding special status for AP. During electioneering, both the Naidus and Modi had showered promises on AP which, bereft of a capital, felt orphaned. The promises made by them on special status to the State and release of large amounts of funds for building the capital also influenced voters to favour the alliance.
However, no sooner had the NDA came to power at the Centre and the TDP-BJP combine in the State, things began taking a totally different turn. The BJP, which had got absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, started taking the TDP lightly, though it had taken the latter into the NDA fold and gave a few berths in the Cabinet.
The NDA government put the issues like special status to AP and Polavaram, besides liberal sanction of funds for the new capital, on the backburner, much to the embarrassment of the TDP. Though Chandrababu Naidu went to Delhi umpteen times and submitted memoranda to Modi and several of his Cabinet colleagues to secure maximum benefits to AP, he could get little assistance from the Centre.
This has created a sort of unease resulting in frosty relations between the TDP and the BJP, though publicly Chandrababu and Venkaiah continue to give an impression that all is well with the alliance. While the TDP leaders started blaming the BJP leadership for ignoring the State, BJP leaders like Venkaiah Naidu chose to throw the blame on the previous UPA government for hurriedly passing the bifurcation bill without incorporating issues like special status to AP.
Now, the TDP leadership is finding excuses to go to the people, while blaming the BJP for not keeping its pre-poll promises. "In any future polls, we certainly have to blame the BJP for either not according special status or for not sanctioning funds for the capital," a senior TDP leader, who does not want to be quoted, said.
The BJP, for its part, is now going all-out not only to consolidate its strength in AP, but also to gain a better ground in the State. The BJP workers are feeling ignored at the grass-roots level, as the TDP workers are garnering all the posts in the development and welfare committees at village and mandal level.
The party high command is well aware that it is not that easy to approach the people of the State who are still spewing venom at the party for supporting the State bifurcation. And, therefore, it is finding ways to reach out to the common man in the State.
A BJP leader in AP confided to Metro India that all is not well between the alliance partners. Refusing to share any of the party's immediate plans, he said there was a long way to go. “Much water would have flown (down the Ganges) by the time the country goes to the next elections,” he remarked cryptically.