Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu’s decision to pull out of the ruling NDA coalition at the Centre has more to do with the possible proximity between his bête noire and opposition leader Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and the BJP for the last two years, than the alleged injustice to the state at the hands of the Narendra Modi government. This is the assessment of several senior leaders who were closeted with Naidu from Thursday night when he first decided to support a no-confidence motion moved by Jagan’s MPs against the NDA government in the Lok Sabha. However, Naidu quickly changed his mind by Friday morning and directed his MPs to move another no-trust motion on their own. As a result, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan received two notices of no-confidence motion on the same subject of alleged injustice to Andhra at the hands of the Centre. She tried to verify the motions had the requisite support of one tenth members, 54, on Friday, but could not as noisy conditions prevailed in the House. Now both the motions will come up for consideration on 19 March Monday. Naidu’s sudden change of mind on moving a no-trust motion and the swiftness with which he ended his close to four-year-old association with the Central government are explained by sources close to him as his efforts to project himself as the champion of the interests of Andhra Pradesh by denying Jagan’s YSR Congress the advantage of being the mover of the no-trust motion.
In the last 48 hours of Thursday and Friday, Naidu spent around a dozen hours discussing situation the arising out of Jagan’s notice for no-confidence motion against the Centre. First, the Chief Minister told his ministers and MPs that he would back anyone who would fight against the Centre for the interests of the state. But, later, he alleged a conspiracy by “some forces” to destabilise his government.
Naidu subsequently told his party leaders that BJP and Jagan shared a hidden agenda to weaken him. The CM specifically mentioned about a meeting Jagan had with PM Modi on 17 May 2017 in New Delhi and expressed his anguish over how the BJP leadership had tried to damage him politically.
Naidu then mentioned in his speech to the AP Assembly on Friday, about YSR Congress Rajya Sabha member and Jagan’s close aide, Vijaya Sai Redy’s frequent visits to the Prime Minister’s Office in the last one year. Jagan’s unconditional support to BJP’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind and Sai Reddy’s hasty greetings to Anandi Ben Patel assuming that she would be made AP Governor were signs of the deal, said Naidu.
The TDP president is also learnt to have commented about the slow progress of the CBI investigation into cases against Jagan and the Enforcement Directorate’ s failure to fight the court stay on seized properties of Jagan’s firms. “Jagan, is A1 (accused number one) and Sai Reddy A2 in four out of 11 charge-sheets filed by the CBI, so how can they have access to the PM and PMO?” Naidu commented.
Naidu, in a speech at the AP Legislative Council on Friday, said that YSR Congress’ no-trust motion and the decision to submit the resignations of their MPs on the last day of Parliament’s budget session were all part of a grand plan by BJP to ensure them the status of martyrs. “YSR Congress MPs are claiming that the Centre will grant special status to AP, after their MPs’ resignations,” said Naidu.
Naidu and some senior TDP MPs are of the view that there was some change in the BJP leadership’s attitude towards their party especially after Jagan’s meeting with the PM last May when the YSR Congress president was believed to have offered 15 out of the total 25 Lok Sabha seats for the BJP to contest, if the two parties entered into an alliance. However, there was no confirmation on this.
Besides the alleged association between BJP and YSR Congress, Naidu also accused another political leader, Jana Sena president Pawan Kalyan, of playing into the hands of his detractors. Pawan Kalyan, in his speech on the occasion of Jana Sena formation day on 14 March, at Guntur did not criticise the PM for not granting special status to AP. This was cited by Naidu as a deal between BJP and Jana Sena against him.
Naidu also alleged that the PM and other senior BJP leaders had sidelined him in the last four years on many occasions. “They used to prostrate before Jayalalithaa when she was the CM of Tamil Nadu. But they never respected me. What was my crime? Now they (BJP) want to turn AP into another Tamil Nadu (controlling politics from Delhi),” said Naidu in the Council.
By projecting BJP as a party that neglected the interests of Andhra Pradesh and bracketing the party with YSR Congress and Jana Sena, Naidu appears to be creating a difficult situation for them to come closer in the next elections. His no-confidence motion plan in Parliament too is believed to be a game plan to revive the sagging morale of his party in AP.