Storm over Union budget changes Andhra Pradesh political landscape


Hyderabad: An angry state government, an alliance that may crack and a third alternative floated to track the promises made by the centre. That sums up the current political milieu in Andhra Pradesh (AP) where the landscape has changed from a two-way contest between the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), to a multi-polar scenario.

It has to do with the Union budget announced earlier this month, and its failure to meet demands for special category status (SCS) for AP, which would mean more development funding.

While the TDP has said it will decide on a future course of action after 5 March, when the budget session of Parliament resumes, the YSRCP has said all its four MPs will resign on 6 April, a day after the session ends. Add to the fact that actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party (JSP) has formed a fact-finding committee with other politicians to find out what promises were made to AP by the centre and how many of them were kept.

A senior TDP functionary from AP, who asked not to be named, said his party’s partnership with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is on the verge of breaking. “It is just a matter of time. Our cadre, including the district-level leaders, want to dump the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party, which leads the NDA). We were not expecting such treatment with regard to fund allocation from the centre over the last two years,” he added.

“As of now, we are waiting and watching what happens on March 5 for the centre’s announcement,” he told Mint, adding his party is not worried about the JSP.

Kalyan, who has hit out against the centre for the “injustice” meted out to AP, has formed a fact-finding committee with Loksatta Party leader Jayaprakash Narayan and former Congress MP Undavalli Arun Kumar to find out how many of the promises made to AP were fulfilled by the centre.

However, the TDP is not the only aggrieved party—even the BJP’s AP unit cadre is apparently unhappy with the alliance and prefers to align with the opposition YSRCP, said a BJP leader, who too did not wish to be named. He added that party workers feel that the state government has failed to introduce development and that this sentiment has been there for over a year.

The first sign of trouble came when chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu told a press conference last month that he was ready to walk out of the NDA if the BJP wanted. After the budget was announced, the TDP lashed out against the centre and held a meeting with all of its MPs to demand that the central government fulfil its promises to AP, made after Telangana was carved out of the state in 2014.

Defending his party, Somagutta Vishnuvardhan Reddy, BJP spokesperson from AP, said that in spite of having an alliance, the TDP has not held a single coordination meeting with his party in the four years following the 2014 assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

A YSRCP leader, who also did not want to be named, however said that so far there has been no talk of his party joining hands with the BJP. “We will resign for sure, as our leader Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy announced, and continue our protests against the state government and centre,” he said.

Political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy, who has previously worked with various political parties, however felt that the NDA will not break, as the centre is expected to make some more fund allocations for AP in the remainder of the budget session. “The TDP wants to create a perception that it fighting for AP,” he added.livemint