YSR Congress president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy is not keen on joining the BJP led NDA government at the Centre as long as TDP, which is ruling in Andhra Pradesh, is a part of the Cabinet. Jagan is understood to have made it clear to some senior BJP leaders from New Delhi, who interacted with him to find out if he is ready to be a part of the ruling coalition at the Centre.
Sources close to Jagan told this newspaper that the latter had conveyed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi three months ago his wish to be a part of the BJP led NDA in the next elections in 2019, but not currently due to the presence of archrival TDP.
Some BJP leaders made enquiries to find out if Jagan’s YSR Congress can join the NDA ahead of a Cabinet reshuffle anytime soon. The BJP top brass is pleased with Jagan’s unconditional support to their president and vice-presidential candidates in the recent elections. Jagan has also supported BJP on all major issues in Parliament including GST.
Jagan is understood to have told the PM three months ago that YSR Congress would be interested to align with BJP in the next general elections, if the latter parted ways with the TDP. Jagan is learnt to have offered 15- 16 seats out of the total 25 Lok Sabha seats from AP to the BJP, while retaining two thirds of the total 175 Assembly seats. Last time, the TDP gave just six Lok Sabha seats for the BJP to contest. The BJP won just two seats. Jagan is confident that the BJP would join hands with him in 2019 elections as TDP president and AP Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s popularity is on the wane in the state. Senior leaders close to Jagan told this newspaper that as per their assessment, the thin vote share difference between the two parties in the 2014 elections has fast disappeared due to the wrong policies of the TDP.
YSR Congress and Jagan’s confidant MLA, G. Srikanth Reddy said that the party’s support to the BJP in the president and vice-president elections should not be seen as its willingness to go with it in the next elections.
“Our performance in Nandyal Assembly byelection will speak volumes about our increased strength in AP. Various sections of people are losing their faith in the Naidu government and this will be known to all on Monday (the day of counting of votes in Nandyal bypoll),” said YSR Congress MLC and former Union minister, Ummareddy Venkateswarlu.
However, the TDP is of the view that YSR Congress would never be able to join NDA as BJP cannot afford to align with a leader accused of corruption. “Jagan is dreaming of coming to power and becoming the CM, but that will never happen as he is neck deep in various corruption cases being probed by the CBI,” AP Information and Public Relations Minister Kaluva Srinivasulu told this newspaper over phone.
TDP’s senior leaders at the same time are wary over reports that the BJP is mulling about its alliance partner in AP in the next elections. They are not ready to discuss the possibility of BJP leaving them and joining Jagan as a poll partner. “We have supported PM Modi when he was not in power, before 2014, and we will consider any proposal to increase the BJP’s seat share if necessary,” said a TDP minister, seeking not to be quoted.