TDP pull out sets ball rolling for next Lok Sabha
The ball has been set into motion for the next general election, regardless of when it is held - at the end of the year as some expect or next April as scheduled.
The decision of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu to ask party’s representatives to quit Modi government signals preparations that have been afoot across the country’s political establishment to line up for the next Lok Sabha elections.
The decision to pull out civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and minister of state for science and technology YS Chowdary while not exiting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance is a smart manoeuvre aimed at not taking blame for the developments. Naidu has ensured that the gap created by his exit is not filled by other players waiting in the wings. He remains the tallest Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and could play on the Telugu pride in a calibrated manner.
The response of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to Naidu’s demands hours before TDP’s decision sounded bureaucratic rather than political. A shrewd politician like the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister has elephantine memory and has not forgotten the drubbing he received in 2004 by opting to remain in NDA after post-Godhra riots.
The issue of special category status to Andhra Pradesh, as promise, is now a ruse to cover up for the lack of chemistry that exists between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and powerful regional satrap. Naidu had seen better days in his interaction with the Central government. In the 1990s as the convenor of the short lived United Front governments and Vajpayee led NDA dispensation, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister had been a powerful player, whose request could not be taken lightly.
The mandate of 2014 made Modi take the risk of not kowtowing to powerful state leaders. The fear of expansionist BJP has since troubled regional leaders across the board. The latest election result from the three north-eastern States has added to the discomfort of the players used to having their way with the Centre over the past two decades.
Naidu posturing is aimed at keeping all options open till the general elections are called as he has been watching the efforts of counterparts Mamata Banerjee and one time associate turned foe K. Chandrasekhar Rao. Other regional parties have also begun looking for alliances as is evident from the manner in which arch rivals Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party reached an understanding for two Lok Sabha by-elections.
Discontent among BJP allies has been growing in the past several months. Shiv Sena has expressed its dismay at the manner in which BJP had often ignored its claims both at the Centre and Maharashtra. There are disgruntled MPs in BJP and many fear that the party leadership may not re-nominate them for the next general elections.
The churning within the political establishment will continue till the results of next Lok Sabha elections. It is too early to paint the final picture.