Andhra triangle: on TDP exiting NDA

Sometimes, the opponent is less important than the rival. The decision of the Telugu Desam Party to leave the National Democratic Alliance is more about its competition with the YSR Congress Party and less about its conflict with the Bharatiya Janata Party. The desertion of the NDA happened alongside the announcement of a no-confidence motion against the NDA government. But importantly, the TDP moved it separately, independent of the one served by the YSRCP. Clearly, the effort was not to join hands with other parties against the BJP, but to isolate the YSRCP politically. The TDP wants to demonstrate that it is prepared to do more than the YSRCP in taking on the BJP, and winning concessions for Andhra Pradesh from the Centre. In all this, there is no danger to the NDA government. The BJP has the numbers to survive a no-confidence vote even without any help from the other disgruntled allies such as the Shiv Sena. But the attempt of the TDP is to show itself as the aggrieved party, as being more aggressive than the YSRCP, rather than bring down the BJP-led government. Electorally, the BJP has been a good fit for the TDP so far. The vote banks added up very well against the Congress, which was the TDP’s main rival until 2014. The emergence of the YSRCP after a split in the Congress, however, has thrown in a new variable: unlike the Congress, the YSRCP is not averse to a tie-up with the BJP, and the TDP did not like the BJP cosying up to the YSRCP. In aggravating its conflict with the BJP, the TDP was following the YSRCP’s lead. From being a sought-after suitor in the eyes of both the TDP and the YSRCP, the BJP in Andhra Pradesh seems to have morphed into the villain.

With an Assembly election looming next year, neither the TDP nor the YSRCP can afford to be seen as an ally of the BJP. No matter what the Centre does in terms of special packages for the State, both regional parties will jockey in demanding more rather than settle for what is given. Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu must be calculating that any loss in votes because of the exit from the NDA will be more than compensated for by the political dividends from taking a tougher stance against the Centre. Indeed, the assertion that the Centre is diverting tax revenues collected from the southern States for the development of the northern States is part of the competitive regional politics that the TDP is forced to play with the YSRCP. Whether this will see the marginalisation of the national parties, as happened in Tamil Nadu, is not clear. But those in the BJP who see in the TDP’s decision an opportunity similar to the one in Maharashtra, where the Shiv Sena ceded space after breaking the alliance, might be mistaken. For the moment, the BJP looks like the biggest loser in the competitive regional politics of the TDP and the YSRCP.

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 1:40:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/andhra-triangle/article23275030.ece

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