The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) moved a no-confidence motion against the government in the Lok Sabha today, hours after party president N Chandrababu Naidu announced in Amaravati that the party was exiting the National Democratic Alliance. The union government, however, exuded confidence that it has the numbers to ride out the crisis with BJP terming the decision by Andhra Pradesh’s ruling party to quit the NDA “inevitable”.

Two TDP ministers, Ashok Gajapati Raju and Y S Chowdary, quit on March 8 following the Centre’s refusal to grant Special Category Status (SCS) to Andhra Pradesh.

The TDP politburo unanimously took the decision to end the alliance during a tele-conference with Naidu this morning. “We go according to principles. Our leader felt being part of NDA and moving a no-confidence motion would not be ethical. So we withdrew from the NDA and I have issued a letter on no-confidence motion to the speaker at 9:30 AM,” Thota Narasimham, the TDP’s floor leader in the Lok Sabha, told reporters. He said letters would go out to BJP leaders about the party’s decision to exit the alliance.

Local politics

Yesterday, the TDP, which is in power in Andhra, had offered to back the YSR Congress’ no-confidence motion but said it withdrew the support as it smelt a nexus between it and the BJP. The YSR Congress’ motion is pending.

“If it is not taken due to lack of time today, on Monday we will get signatures from 54 MPs from various other parties and push for a no-confidence motion vigorously,” TDP’s Ramesh said. A no-confidence motion can be accepted only if it has the support of at least 50 members in the House. While the TDP has 16 MPs in the Lok Sabha, the YSR Congress has nine.

Leader of Opposition in Andhra Pradesh and YSR Congress president Y S Jaganmohan Reddy said the TDP had “woken up” to the needs of the state by moving a no-confidence motion against the NDA government over special status to the state. He said in a tweet that the TDP’s decision a “win for democracy” and that his party would continue to fight for SCS for the state.

The TRS asserted that they support the cause but ruled out its support for the no-confidence motion against the NDA government, describing the move as a “political gimmick”. The party’s leader Keshava Rao told PTI , “No question (of supporting the no-confidence motion). It is just a political gimmick. Can they muster 50 per cent of the House (to win the motion)?”

Divided opposition

Congress and Left leaders said they would support the motion against the government. “When the Andhra parties bring a no confidence motion in the Lok Sabha, we will support it,” Mohammad Salim of the CPI(M) said. Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge added that the party would also support the motion but asked the two regional parties to not play politics over the matter.

S Sudhakar Reddy, CPI General Secretary described the motion as a “positive development”. “Our party supports it (no-confidence motion) completely,” he told PTI. He accused the present government of not fulfilling the promise of special status to the state made by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “The next government has to keep up the promise of the Prime Minister and of the previous governments,” Reddy said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee welcomed the TDP’s decision to quit the NDA. She urged all opposition parties to work closely together against “atrocities, economic calamities and political instability”. “The current situation warrants such action to save the country from disaster,” the TMC supremo said in a tweet.

The AIADMK said that its top leadership will decide on the no-confidence motion moved against the Narendra Modi government by TDP. State fisheries minister D Jayakumar indicated that party coordinator O Panneerselvam and co-coordinator K Palaniswami will decide on the matter. “The party leadership will decide whether to support or not (the no-confidence motion),” he said.

Being the “third largest party” in the Lok Sabha by virtue of its 37-member strength, there was an eagerness across the country on the party’s stand on this matter, AIADMK spokesperson Vaigaichelvan told reporters. “The coordinator (Panneerselvam) and co-coordinator (Palaniswami) will take an appropriate decision,” he added.

Confidant NDA

As the opposition counted its numbers, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the whole country has full confidence in Modi as does the House. “The government has the numbers...We are ready to take up everything,” he said.

The BJP alone has 274 members in the 536-member Lok Sabha and enjoying support of allies, the no-confidence motion, if accepted, is likely to be defeated.

BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao accused the TDP of resorting to “lies to cover up its inept and inert governance”. The TDP’s decision to quit, he said, was inevitable after its “mischievous propaganda” against the Centre.