Hyderabad/New Delhi: Trouble seems to be brewing in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on the eve of the crucial budget session of Parliament, with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) saying it is ready to walk out of the alliance after being criticized by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators in Andhra Pradesh.
The threat by Andhra Pradesh’s ruling party comes just days after Shiv Sena, another NDA partner from Maharashtra, passed a resolution in its national executive meeting on Tuesday that said it will contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and Maharashtra assembly elections alone rather than in alliance with the BJP.
The budget session of Parliament starts on Monday.
“I will not say anything owing to mitrapaksha dharmam (loyalty to friendship). Their (BJP) leadership should think about it. I am controlling my people as well and I will continue to control them... .If they (BJP) don’t want an alliance, then we will say namaskar and then talk," Press Trust of India quoted Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu as telling reporters in Amaravati on Saturday.
The Shiv Sena and the TDP are among the oldest partners in the BJP-led NDA. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was instrumental in reaching out to Chandrababu Naidu for support before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Naidu’s comments came in response to the TDP government facing criticism from BJP legislators over how it spends central funds. Relations have also apparently strained after M. Venkaiah Naidu, a BJP member from Andhra Pradesh and former cabinet minister, became vice-president.
A BJP leader from Andhra Pradesh, who did not want to be quoted, said that Venkaiah Naidu as a central minister used to ensure that the TDP’s demands were met with regard to funding from the centre or central government programmes. “We are also looking to get stronger in Andhra Pradesh and not just be a junior partner. If you look at the past, the TDP came to power twice in the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh with the BJP’s support. We have ambitions to grow in AP, which they don’t want," he added.
In the recent past, the TDP has faced criticism from BJP leaders such as former Union minister D. Purandeswari on issues such as cost escalation and delay in completion of the Polavaram project. The allegation is that the state government has been diverting funds from centrally funded programmes instead of utilizing them.
TDP leaders from AP, however, played down the issue, and said that the comments by BJP legislators in the past (party MLA Vishnu Kumar Raju recently criticized Naidu for inducting four legislators of the YSR Congress Party, or YSRCP, who defected to the TDP, into the state cabinet) were made in their individual capacities. “Being a friend, we give priority to our friendship. What the chief minister said is that if they (BJP) decide to go on their own, that if it comes from the right channel, then we will see," said Lanka Dinakar, TDP spokesperson for AP.
In the 2014 assembly elections, the TDP and BJP won 102 and four seats, respectively, in the 175-member house. The YSRCP bagged the rest. However, subsequently, more than 20 YSRCP legislators have defected to the TDP.