TDP men quit Modi govt, but party stays on in NDA

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on March 08, 2018 Published on March 08, 2018

Triggered by Jaitley’s remark that Centre will not grant SCS to Andhra Pradesh

With just a year to go for the Lok Sabha polls, cracks have appeared in ruling National Democratic Alliance.

The Telugu Desam Party, an ally of the BJP, has withdrawn both its ministers from the Narendra Modi Cabinet. The party that is in power in Andhra Pradesh is miffed at the Centre’s refusal to grant the State the ‘Special Categort Status’ (SCS) it has been asking for.

Both Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Minister of State for Science and Technology Y Sujana Chowdhury drove to the Prime Minister’s residence and handed over their resignation letters to him.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who also heads the TDP, said the party has not exited the NDA and that it will continue to fight for its demands.

The ‘uneasy’ ties between the BJP and the TDP hurtled to the edge on Thursday with both partners hardening their stances on the issue of SCS. Reacting to the TDP’s decision, two of the BJP’s legislators who are ministers in the Andhra Pradesh government, have also handed in their resignations.

The tit-for-tat moves came even as hectic discussions and political brinkmanship was on in full swing. The PM Modi reportedly made a call to Naidu in the evening. The TDP chief had spoken his mind on how the Centre had reneged on its promise, his 29 visits to the national Capital and finally, the PM not taking attending to his call on Thursday morning. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s statement on Wednesday, when he categorically ruled out SCS, had precipitated matters.

What next?

The fast-faced developments clearly point to a parting of ways between the BJP and the TDP, which formed an alliance before the 2014 general elections. It’s just a question of timing, say political analysts. Relations have soured over the past month, especially after the Budget was presented on February 1.

The TDP 17 MPs have been agitating in Parliament.

Interestingly, Andhra Pradesh’s main opposition, the YS Jaganmohan Reddy-led YSR Congress, with its 8 MPs, has been very vocal in its demand for SCS and protesting both in Parliament and outside. Congress President Rahul Gandhi had also lent support to the parties, stating that if his party was voted to power in 2019, he would ensure that SCS was granted to the State immediately.

Talking to reporters after meeting Modi, Raju and Chowdhury said they were not aware of whether the PM had accepted their resignation. “Our jobs end by submitting the resignations personally,” he said.

“We are trying to get a solution for the problem,” Raju said, referring to the demands raised by Chandrababu Naidu.

The Ministers said there were certain promises given to Andhra Pradesh at the time of its bifurcation in 2014, and that it was up to various ministries of the Centre to deal with such issues. “The party has directed us to resign and we have resigned. It is a courtesy to call on PM and present our resignation to him,” Raju said.

The ministers hinted that the disruptions in Parliament would continue. “The problem here is that the Bill that made Andhra Pradesh a residual state of undivided Andhra Pradesh was passed amid disruption of Parliament,” Raju said. “Both the Houses passed the Bill amid din. Such a major amendment to Constitution was passed amid din. In any case we cannot reverse the clock back. One national party has deceived and other national party has cheated. It’s for the nation to understand which is one and two,” Chowdhury added.

The Ministers said they would continue with the NDA till their struggle finds success. When asked if the TDP has set a deadline, Chowdary said: “We will continue to fight within 16th Lok Sabha is our deadline.”

Published on March 08, 2018
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