Although the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh has survived the no-confidence motion in the State Legislative Assembly by 160 to 122 votes, this may actually see the deepening of Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy's political troubles. The survival margin might not seem small but sterner tests lie in wait outside the House. Sixteen Congress MLAs defied the party whip and voted for the motion; all of them owe allegiance to Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, the seriously rich son of former Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. If the ruling party really presses for their disqualification from the Assembly, the government will face a most unwelcome prospect — a mini-Assembly-election. Already there are seven vacancies, six on account of resignations on the Telangana issue, and one caused by the death of a member. Chief Minister Reddy might discover that ensuring that legislators stayed in line is a lot easier than winning people's votes. The 16 MLAs who cast their lot with Mr. Jaganmohan Reddy would most likely welcome the opportunity to contest again as candidates of the YSR Congress floated by him. After losing a string of by-elections in the Telangana region, the Congress looks in deep trouble in the State. While the major opposition parties — the Telugu Desam Party, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, and the YSR Congress — have little in common, they now find themselves on the same side thanks to the no-confidence motion moved by Leader of the Opposition and former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu. A united front against the ruling party is nowhere in sight — but these parties along with the Left might soon begin to see the benefits of synchronised action against a regime in disarray.
Post-YSR, the chief ministership of Andhra Pradesh has proved to be a crown of thorns. That the Congress managed to live through the no-confidence motion is largely due to the support extended by the Praja Rajyam led by actor Chiranjeevi. Although a merger of the two parties was announced, the ruling party does not appear to have kept its end of the bargain. If things do not go according to plan, Mr. Chiranjeevi, whose followers are known to be disgruntled, will have every reason to rethink the merger agreement. What the no-confidence motion might have achieved for the Praja Rajyam is increased leverage. For the same reason, another ally, the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, will take comfort from the way things went in the Assembly. A government that is being pulled in different directions by its own cadres and leaders on the Telangana issue might now come under increasing pressure from allies. Individually and collectively, other parties appear to have gained more from this floor test than the formal victor.