24 March 2018 09:11 PM



New Political Alignments: NDA Threatened With Splits as Opposition Works for Larger Unity

This is war, says Telugu Desam after the Budget

NEW DELHI: The pendulum of political fortunes seems to be swinging again towards the Opposition end with the BJP struggling to keep its angry allies together, and the Congress reaching out with an embrace that has the Communists and the Trinamool Congress sitting in the same room.

The first major ally to pillory the BJP has been the Shiv Sena, that has been using harsh words against its ally in Maharashtra on a regular basis. The second has been the Akali Dal that has been whispering its unhappiness with the ruling party, and has made it clear that the alliance can no longer be taken for granted. And now Teleug Desam party chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has dealt the BJP a virtual body blow, post budget, threatening to quit the alliance altogether.

"We are going to declare war. We have three options - one is to try and continue, two is our MPs resign and the third is to end the alliance. We will decide in the meeting with the Chief Minister on Sunday," TDP parliamentarian TG Venkatesh said in Delhi.

The Citizen was the first to report that the TDP that had supported the Opposition on the Triple Talaq law, is straining at the leash. And given Naidu’s political trajectory, is preparing for a pull out. The budget, according to insiders, could be used by the wily political leader as the proverbial last straw, more so as he was not even mentioned once by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech.

The smaller parties in the NDA have also been registering their anger.For instance the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party led by Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha has raised the red flag. He organised a human chain in Patna, that was attended by the Rashtriya Janata Dal in numbers. The BJP stayed away, as Kushwaha had opened the doors for Lalu Yadav’s party.

Reports from Patna also suggest that another loyal ally, Lokjanshakti party president and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan is now looking away towards his old comrades in the Opposition parties. He is said to be unhappy with the attention being given to Chief Minister and new ally of the BJP Nitish Kumar, and given the high level of Dalit unrest is also worried about losing his base support entirely. In fact the only ally walking with the BJP with firm steps is Nitish Kumar, who overturned the peoples mandate, to join the NDA last year.

On the other side is the Opposition with 17 political parties responding to Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s invitation. This included both the Communist parties and the Trinamool Congress, the Samajwadi party, the National Conference, the DMK. NCP, after a long while Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal and others. The theme was opposition unity. The good performance of the Congress in Gujarat where it reduced the BJP to a two digit makority, and the recent by poll results where the party won all seats in Rajasthan has given it a major boost. And as sources said, placed it in a leading role again to cement Opposition unity before the elections.

Interestingly, all Opposition leaders spoken to expected the general elections to be pre-poned by the ruling party to even December this year. Hard electoral battles are up ahead, the first now in Tripura to be followed by Karnataka. The Left Front and the Congress respectively are confident of retaining the governments in both states.