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Jagan keeps suspense alive over joining NDA

Hyderabad, Feb 19 (IANS) Are the political equations in Andhra Pradesh set to change? Will the ruling YSR Congress Party join Modi government at the Centre to foil a possible grand opposition alliance. The political circles in the state have been agog with these speculations for the last few days.

Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah last week added to the buzz. Though officially the YSRCP chief called on the two leaders to discuss state-related subjects, certain comments made by a senior state minister and party leader sparked the talk of YSRCP joining the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

State Urban Development Minister Botsa Satyanarayana was quoted as saying that YSRCP is not averse to joining Modi government, if it benefits Andhra Pradesh. He said the party was ready to go to any extent for the benefit of the state. He also reportedly stated that their support to the Centre would be issue-based.

However, the next day BJP national secretary Sunil Deodhar made it clear that there is no proposal for an alliance with YSRCP. “Both YSRCP and TDP are our political rivals. There is no proposal for alliance with either of the parties,” said Deodhar, who BJP in-charge for Andhra Pradesh.

The reports of YSRCP-BJP alliance had also upset actor Pawan Kalyan, whose Jana Sena joined hands with the BJP last month, in the first political re-alignment since last year’s elections when YSRCP stormed to power with a landslide victory. Pawan, a bitter critic of Jagan Mohan Reddy, lost no time in making it clear that if YSRCP-BJP alliance becomes a reality, he will snap ties with the BJP.

Following Deodhar ruling out an alliance, the YSRCP clarified that it is not seeking an alliance with the BJP. Satyanarayana denied that he spoke about YSRCP joining the NDA. He blamed a section of media for deliberately tweaking his statement.

The minister said that Jagan Mohan Reddy’s meetings with the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister were part of the efforts to keep the Centre-state relations cordial and seek more central funds for the state.

Political analyst Telakapalli Ravi is of the view YSRCP may not join Modi government but continue to extend the support wherever required. He believes that the talk of joining the government and conflicting comments may be a strategy by both.

He feels that unlike Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, Jagan enjoys a good equation with Modi. By pulling out of NDA and then going all out against Modi during elections, Naidu had ruffled BJP feathers. After the shocking defeat, Naidu tried to mend fences with the BJP.

“BJP national leadership is not prepared to entertain Babu though he sent many feelers and spoke in high praise and submissive tone. They even swallowed his members in Rajya Sabha. In the latest development, their TDP legislators dropped their Delhi visit as Amit Shah denied them an appointment,” Ravi told IANS.

On the other hand, YSRCP is going all out to please Modi. “They may not join NDA at present but ready to serve more from outside. Exclusive and even antagonistic social base makes their joining NDA difficult. They may allocate a Rajya Sabha seat for NDA. The Centre is also disinclined at this stage when their unit is attacking Jagan all out.”

With 22 MPs, YSRCP is one of the largest parties in Lok Sabha. Its government in the state needs a greater hand-holding by the Centre in view of the precarious finances of the state and the commitments to be fulfilled by the Centre made at the time of bifurcation of united Andhra Pradesh.

Jagan is also looking to Modi government to back his controversial moves like decentralising the state capital Amaravati by developing two more seats of governance in Visakhapatnam and Kurnool and abrogation of State Legislative Council, which is dominated by the opposition and is proving to be a roadblock for the bills passed by the Legislative Assembly.

“Jagan needs support of Modi government to ensure his political and administrative decisions pass the test of legitimacy. Scrapping of council or three capitals, Jagan’s decisions would necessitate blessings of Prime Minister,” analyst P. Raghavendra Reddy told IANS.

“On the other hand Jagan enjoys a unique position in Indian politics today. With Modi and BJP facing stress from existing allies, the PM and his party are in need of new political partnerships. A political association with YSRCP will help BJP with the narrative that the party is still an attractive force for regional forces.”

He believes that while both parties need each other’s support, Jagan may not jump in to join NDA immediately. YSRCP will be watchful of TDP’s moves and gauge its proximity with the saffron brigade.

Pawan’s joining hands with BJP has already triggered talk that the actor could be acting as a catalyst for a larger opposition alliance against Jagan. Pawan is always perceived as someone with a soft corner for Chandrababu Naidu.

Pawan had campaigned for TDP-BJP alliance in 2014 and played a key role in its victory. After his disastrous electoral debut last year, the actor admitted his mistakes. He is now likely to persuade BJP for a grand opposition alliance including the TDP to take on Jagan.

–IANS

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