Responding to the decision of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to exit the Union Government, its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) withdrew its two ministers from the Andhra Pradesh Cabinet.
However, the step by the two allies has raised more questions in what is otherwise a fluid political situation in Andhra Pradesh. This is because the exit from government has not been followed up with a formal severing of ties between the BJP and TDP; as a result, TDP continues to be part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
A senior TDP leader said, 'Even if the alliance with the BJP is to be formally broken, it will be done much later. That is why we have not cut our umbilical cord with the BJP. In the current situation, we are expecting some trouble from the Centre in giving us clearances for projects and in disbursing of funds to the state.'
The two BJP ministers who submitted their resignations from the Andhra cabinet are the Health Minister, Kamineni Srinivas and Endowments Minister, P. Manikyala Rao. They were given the cabinet berths post the 2014 assembly elections. From the TDP, it is MPs Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Y.S. Chowdary resigned from the Union Cabinet.
The BJP, on its part, has seemingly taken a 'wait-and-watch' approach and is responding only when the TDP says something. Sudheesh Rambhotla, chief official spokesperson of the BJP in Andhra Pradesh, said his party has alternative plans in case the TDP wants to exit the NDA. 'It seems they are in fighting mode.'
Another BJP leader from Andhra Pradesh said that the party’s central leadership might try and reach out to Chandrababu Naidu as he has left some room for negotiation. 'For now, our attacks on the TDP will get sharper and we can be more local. There will be a reaction for every action they take,.'
Naidu’s decision to pull out his MPs from the Union Cabinet on Wednesday came in response to the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley’s press conference on the same day in New Delhi where he said political compulsions could not lead to an increase in the quantum of money allocated to Andhra Pradesh.
Jaitley added that after the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, the concept of special category status was abolished and that it could not be given to Andhra Pradesh.
A. Chandrasekhar, a political analyst from Anantapur, however said the ongoing tussle between the TDP and the BJP has taken place due to political reasons. 'The TDP has been asking for delimitation of assembly seats to increase them (from the current 175), because Naidu is aware that the BJP will ask for more seats than the 12 given last time as part of the alliance,' he said.
Chandrasekhar, who is also vice president, Human Rights Forum (Andhra Pradesh), added that Naidu is trying to bargain and force the BJP to take a decision (on the alliance). 'This is the crucial thing that has broken the alliance. Naidu knows very well that the special category status cannot be given due to constitutional limitations. Both parties are doing drama.'
The TDP has been at loggerheads with the Centre and BJP ever since the Union Budget 2018 was announced, claiming that Andhra Pradesh did not get its due in funding. It had given the BJP 5 March as the deadline to fulfil its demands. The party’s MPs also have been demanding the implementation of all the promises made to the state in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, before the state’s bifurcation in 2014.
Apart from the TDP, even the main opposition YSR Congress Party has been demanding special category status for Andhra Pradesh, and said that all of its five MPs will resign from Parliament on April 6 if it is not given.