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OPINION | From Trusted Ally to No-Trust Motion: What Chandrababu Naidu Hopes to Gain From The Vote

Chandrababu Naidu wants the political spectrum to articulate what it thinks of four years of Modi raj, with regional parties attacking the BJP over state-specific as well as national concerns.

TS Sudhir |

Updated:July 20, 2018, 10:15 AM IST
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OPINION | From Trusted Ally to No-Trust Motion: What Chandrababu Naidu Hopes to Gain From The Vote
File photo of TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu. (Getty Images)
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Has Chandrababu Naidu blundered by moving a no-confidence motion against the NDA government? The Telugu Desam chief thinks it will give his party a chance to expose the BJP's refusal to honour the Centre's promise to accord special status to Andhra Pradesh. What Naidu has done is to give Narendra Modi a chance to not only show he has the numbers and the confidence of the House, but to use the Lok Sabha to virtually kickstart his 2019 election campaign.

Pushed to a corner by Jaganmohan Reddy, who first mooted the idea of a no-confidence motion during the budget session, Naidu got into the Me Too mode.

At that time, it was more an effort to neutralise Jagan by showing the TDP too can take on the BJP government. The din in the House, courtesy the AIADMK and the TRS, came in handy and both the Andhra parties could indulge in empty posturing for the TV cameras.

Already in the Andhra landscape, Naidu is making a villain out of the BJP, blaming it for his inability to develop Andhra the way he had planned and friendly vernacular media is helping him ramp up that message. The BJP is not much of a force in Andhra where the TDP's fight is mainly against the YSR Congress. To blunt Jagan, Naidu is stressing the point that a vote for the YSR Congress will in fact, be an indirect vote for the BJP.

So does the regional party stand to gain by taking the fight against the BJP national? Are there likely to be any tangible benefits for Andhra and especially any political mileage for the TDP?

Naidu believes the no-confidence motion gives his party a platform that was denied last time, to present his case before the country. Since his exit from the NDA in March, the TDP says it has not got an opportunity to explain to the country at large that the circumstances forcing it to step out, were created by Modi & Co.

It is not just the BJP that Naidu seeks to target. The notes prepared for the TDP MPs point out that in 2013 when the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh was being discussed, the entire political spectrum represented in the two Houses was party to the decision. Almost all the same parties are still a part of this Lok Sabha and therefore, the TDP argument is that if they were witness to the promise (read special category status for Andhra Pradesh) made in 2013, they should also be party to how the promise has not been kept.

It also allows the TDP to further cement its position as a leading light of the anti-BJP brigade. Naidu loses no opportunity to remind people of his position as Convenor of the United Front 22 years ago in 1996. It is also a pointer to Naidu's own national ambitions in case he is able to secure a second term for his party in Andhra and the opposition manages to get the better of the BJP in the rest of the country. Naidu may then look to make a move to New Delhi, leaving Amaravati in the care of his son, IT minister Nara Lokesh. The no-trust motion in that sense, the first stone cast in that direction.

When the pros and cons of whether or not to move the no-confidence motion was being debated within the TDP, it was agreed upon that the only commentary about the quality of governance under NDA has taken place either over social media, noisy television debates or during the Karnataka election campaign. With the last two sessions drowned in din, Parliament as an avenue has not been utilised. Naidu wants the political spectrum to articulate what it thinks of four years of Modi raj, with regional parties attacking the BJP over state-specific as well as national concerns.

But it won't be hunky dory for the TDP. Barring MPs Jaydev Galla and Rammohan Naidu, the party lacks articulate speakers in English and that will prevent them from presenting their side of the story effectively on Friday. Rammohan Naidu, who is the late Yerran Naidu's son, is junior among the lot of MPs and unless Chandrababu specifically directs the TDP parliamentary party, the senior lot may not even allow the MP to have the spotlight on him.

The BJP, on the other hand, will look to show that the so-called opposition unity being built up in the run-up to 2019 can collapse like a pack of cards. Among the non-NDA parties, the AIADMK and TRS are likely to abstain, effectively helping the BJP. Even the Shiv Sena, which keeps grumbling against the BJP, will vote for the government.

Does India stand to gain? Yes if among other things, the PM's Mann ki baat in the Lok Sabha focuses on sending a stern message against mob lynching and intolerance.

(Author is a senior journalist. Views are personal)
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