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Posted at: Mar 9, 2018, 1:21 AM; last updated: Mar 9, 2018, 1:21 AM (IST)

Naidu’s gambit to spur third front?

BJP ministers resign

  • In a tit-for-tat move, two BJP ministers on Thursday pulled out of the Chandrababu Naidu cabinet in Andhra Pradesh
  • Medical and Health Minister Kamineni Srinivas and Endowments Minister Manikyala Rao handed over their resignations to the CM after abstaining from the cabinet meeting that approved the state’s annual budget
Naidu’s gambit to spur third front?
N Chandrababu Naidu was hailed as a ‘king maker’ during the formation of United Front and NDA-I governments.

Suresh Dharur

Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, March 8

The mounting pressure from within his Telugu Desam Party and growing belligerence of the Opposition over the demand for special category status to Andhra Pradesh has prompted Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu to finally call it quits and pull out his representatives from the Union Cabinet.

The next logical step before the TDP, the biggest southern ally of the BJP, is to exit from the NDA. Naidu’s latest gambit is expected to herald realignment of political forces ahead of the 2019 elections and hasten the process of forging third front as an alternative to the Congress and the BJP. The TDP has 16 members in the Lok Sabha and six in the Rajya Sabha.

The crux of the TDP’s contention is that Andhra Pradesh lost out heavily due to “clumsy and unscientific” division of the state nearly four years ago, and that the NDA government had done precious little to undo the damage.

The opposition YSR Congress, headed by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, has upped the ante and launched an agitation asserting that nothing short of special status would satisfy the people. Jagan, who is currently on a statewide walkathon to highlight the issue, has issued an ultimatum to the Centre saying its MPs would quit the Lok Sabha if the government failed to announce special category status by April 6.

The ruling party is facing flak from the opposition for failing to extract adequate funds from the Centre despite being part of the NDA.

The BJP-TDP alliance came under severe strain soon after presentation of the Union Budget, the last full-fledged budget of the NDA government before it goes to the polls.

For Naidu, who had played a key role in the national coalition politics in the past, the latest decision comes after careful political calculations with an eye on the next year’s elections. An astute strategist that he is, Naidu was once the toast of the national media and hailed as a “king maker” during the formation of United Front and NDA-I governments in the past. His party’s political pendulum had swung from right to left when he fought the 2009 election in alliance with the left parties. Earlier, his party provided crucial outside support to the BJP-led alliance at the Centre from 1998 to 2004.

However, he ended the alliance with BJP after losing power in the 2004 Assembly elections, went on an image makeover exercise and even apologised to the minorities for committing the “biggest mistake” of his life by aligning with the saffron party.

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