On Wednesday the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh & the president of the TDP (Telugu Desam Party), Mr. N Chandrababu Naidu had decided to pull out two of its ministers in the central government, marking the first crack in the BJP-led coalition four years after it stormed to the office with a massive mandate. Naidu government alleged BJP, of not fulfilling its promises & hence parted his ways from BJP, on the other hand, BJP alleges Naidu government of being over demanding & called it ‘political opportunism’. Lets look in detail how TDP-BJP breakup will impact the NDA government and 2019 elections.
Read more: Can BJP Win The General Elections 2019?
What made (Naidu government) TDP to untie knots with BJP during such a crucial time when assembly elections in Andhra & general elections, both are scheduled in next year? How will it be impacting BJP’s winning speer? What changes will this move make in southern politics? Let’s have a look.
What actually did happen that made TDP withdraw its alliance?
The TDP and BJP have parted ways setting the tone for 2019 Assembly election in Andhra Pradesh and also for the Lok Sabha polls. The TDP accused the BJP of breaking promises and exited from Narendra Modi cabinet at the Centre. The BJP, in turn, termed the break up by TDP a case of political opportunism and pulled out its ministers from Andhra Pradesh government.
The news of breakup was confirmed after Jaitley made a statement saying
“Centre does not have free floating funds. Every state in India has a right to same Central funds in the same manner. I have been sympathetic to AP because I know it suffered due to bifurcation,” further adding into this he said “Politics and sentiment don’t decide the quantum of funds that a state gets from the Centre which is done in accordance with the constitutional award decided by the Finance Commission.”
A special status’ for Andhra Pradesh is the reason behind this breakup, the TDP has been agitating for special category status for Andhra Pradesh as promised by the previous Congress-led UPA government at the time of bifurcation of the state to carve out a separate state of Telangana. But Jaitley has rejected the demand for special category status saying that “we have to think of the country as a whole”. There are other states that are earning less revenue than Andhra Pradesh, the Centre is ready to pay an equal amount of money to Andhra Pradesh as a special package.” Naidu government turned down this proposal by center mainly due to two reasons that are:
- The fiscal deficit is much higher in the state.
- This proposal won’t make any difference & will increase the stress in long run.
Naidu can’t afford to be seen not fulfilling the promises they made in the last Assembly election as the state heads to another one. Andhra Pradesh will go to the polls next year around the same time as Lok Sabha elections. So to save their image they broke-up with BJP.
Why does TDP government demand special status for Andhra Pradesh?
- The TDP government is so keen to get the status of ‘special state’ for Andhra Pradesh because Andhra is facing a situation of continued massive revenue deficit – Rs 16,000 crore for 2014-15, Rs 4,598 crore in 2016-17, and Rs 14,682 in 2017-18. The revenue deficit for the next previous year is estimated to be Rs 416 crore for 2018-19. & according to TDP, this deficit has occurred due to the bifurcation of the state into Andhra & Telangana and now, the Centre must compensate for its losses. However, there is another argument that Andhra Pradesh has higher revenue deficit because it included Rs 10,000 crore given as farm loan waivers in its calculation.
- The Polavaram project, a multi-purpose irrigation project, is estimated to cost Rs 33,000 crore including the cost of rehabilitation. Around Rs, 7,500 crores have been spent till now on the project. The Centre has already given around 4,660 crores for the project’s construction.
- Andhra Pradesh government has borrowed some Rs 3,000 crore for which they are paying an annual interest of Rs 300 putting the burden on its finances. TDP seeking more money from the Centre to meet the cost.
At the time of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had promised “special assistance” for five years. TDP is alleging that Andhra Pradesh is being denied what was promised to it.
- According to TDP, Andhra Pradesh should get Rs 20,000 additional funds for its projects.
- The lack of fund is also hampering other projects undertaken by the Naidu government, for example, construction of a new capital at Amaravati which is likely to cost Rs 33,000 crore. The Centre has given Us 2,500 crore. TDP wants Centre to bear the entire cost saying it didn’t ask for bifurcation. With the election approaching, TDP finds it more convenient to face electorate as a martyr than a failure.
All these problems can be solved if TDP manages to get the special status for Andhra. As Andhra Pradesh’s insistence on special category status would have eased the financial burden of Naidu government. Under special category status, a state gets Centre’s assistance in the ratio of 90:10 (Union: State) for all externally aided and centrally sponsored projects much above the Finance Commission mandated 60:40 ratio.
Why is Central Government refraining from proving special status to Andhra Pradesh?
- Under the 14th Finance Commission recommendations, the “special status” categorisation has been removed. It is now restricted only to the northeastern and three hilly states. The recommendations were accepted in 2015, a year after the Andhra was bifurcated.
- Jaitley says that “One of the promises was that at that time (of bifurcation), a special category status could be given to Andhra Pradesh. At that time, the concept of special category states did exist, but such a treatment is now ‘constitutionally’ restricted to just the north-eastern and three hilly states.”
- Jaitley said under the original scheme of bifurcation, the Centre has already given a large part of the fund due to Andhra Pradesh. “Only Rs 139 crore is remaining,” he said. The Centre has paid Rs 4000 crore to Andhra Pradesh.
- Jaitley made it clear that under the existing formula, Andhra Pradesh can’t get more than Rs 1,600 crore, an amount that TDP considers insufficient.
How will this impact the future of Assembly and Lok Sabha Election 2019?
In 1998, the BJP first found an ally in TDP. Then chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu had lent outside support to Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. BJP can let go of TDP in Lok Sabha, as it has a clear majority in the Lower House, but it will suffer in Rajya Sabha. BJP can’t afford to break alliance with TDP as the numbers in Rajya Sabha of BJP-led NDA will dip down. BJP is doing everything it can to get some numbers in the Upper House, so break-up with TDP means falling short of numbers in Rajya Sabha.
While the BJP has the majority in the lower house, but due to the break-up of alliance which will affect it in 23rd March’s elections for Rajya Sabha, it will still fall short of the majority mark of 123 seats. & most importantly in the last assembly elections in Andhra, the TDP government won 117 seats out of 294, whereas BJP could manage to get only 9 seats. This shows the poor status of BJP in Andhra. Even though BJP has managed to conquer most of the states, but to retain its presence in Andhra, they need to be in alliance with regional powers.
Will the BJP form a government in Andhra Pradesh in 2019?
TDP has parted their ways from BJP to save their image & retain their promise made during bifurcation of the state. Both BJP & TDP need each other as right now Andhra is drowning in financial debt, only confrontation & deliberation can improve this situation. Similarly, BJP needs to have a75 strong alliance to sustain their presence in Andhra & also to increase their seats in Rajya Sabha. In order to maintain peace P.M Modi has called C.M Naidu to open doors for a talk. The tiff between center & state had led to political turmoil & change in political dynamics of the state, but the real fact remains that normal people & progress programme in Andhra is bearing the consequence of this rift.