NDA headed for a revamp
The bonhomie between the NDA partners is finally fraying up. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and chief of Telugu Desam Party Chandrababu Naidu has decided to pull out two of his ministers from the Narendra Modi led-NDA government at the Centre. And, BJP has pulled out two of its ministers from the Naidu-led NDA government in the state. Naidu who hoped that the Centre would announce a special package for Andhra Pradesh in the general budget is peeved after the budget did not accord any such favours to Andhra Pradesh. The Centre has stated that if it gives in to the demands of Andhra Pradesh, other states like Bihar and Jharkhand would also demand similar packages. The last Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh were held in 2014 and fresh elections are due next year. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has promised to offer all possible help to Andhra Pradesh except the special package that the state government is demanding to compensate for the losses caused to the state during the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Just about a year before the Lok Sabha elections next year, the NDA is all set to go in for a revamp. The opposition camp also looks ready to forego old enmity and forge new alliances. BSP's decision to support SP candidates in Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha byelections is the nature of alliance that is in the offing. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao has floated the idea of a People's Third Front early this week and received the support of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and former Jharkhand Chief Minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Hemant Soren. This comes in the wake of Bihar Chief Minister and chief of Janata Dal (U) Nitish Kumar joining hands with the BJP and becoming a part of the NDA.
The results of the recent Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Nagaland have all gone in favour of BJP, which is in power in 20 states. Some of the BJP-ruled states are poll-bound this year like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. Andhra Pradesh elections may coincide with the general elections in the country next year. For Chandrababu, who has been a key member of the previous NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, parting ways with BJP makes political sense as he can now openly involve himself in opposition politics and, at the same time, prepare for the state Assembly elections next year. The BJP has clearly realised Naidu's ambitions and in a bid to strengthen its position in the state, the party has withdrawn its ministers from the state cabinet, who will now fight with Naidu for their own space at every platform.
With K Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) already expressing his desire to be more active in national politics, the opposition camp has a number of heavyweights ranging from Mamata Banerjee to Chandrababu Naidu. But why the KCR wants this People's Third Front to be a non-congress entity is a little difficult to understand. It seems possible that at some stage the entire range of opposition leaders including Congress President Rahul Gandhi may come under a bloc to present a united fight to the BJP. In the NDA camp, another ally which has been swearing at the BJP is the Shiv Sena. The party has been criticising the state and the Central governments on a daily basis. Next time when BJP negotiates seat adjustments with the Sena, it will have to be ready to face an intransigent Sena leadership. It is even possible that the Sena goes in alone for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The opposition camp may also see a grand alliance being formed that brings together Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav, Mamata Banerjee, Tejaswi Yadav, Chandrababu Naidu, and Kamal Hassan.
As far as BJP is concerned, the poll results from the three northeastern states have boosted its morale and the party now appears more confident to win the elections on its own. With major allies shying away from continuing with the alliance, the NDA may become an alliance of fewer parties by the time the nation faces the next Lok Sabha elections in 2019.