By Sushil Kutty
The big story is not the two no-confidence motions against the Modi Government. One of the YSR Congress and the other of Telugu Desam (TDP). The story of the day is that a fragile opposition alliance is taking shape; interestingly, put in place by the two BJP allies-turned-enemies. The opposition Congress, TMC, CPI, CPM, AIMIM, BJD, RJD, AAP and the TRS are all on the same page, and that’s a story to tell.
The anti-Modi club looks more and more like a blunt instrument for change. But the Modi government is not about to fall. Embarrassed maybe, but in one-piece – still in a position to deny or offer special packages to states, the kind that denied TDP a special status.
The TDP and the YSRCP have brought parochial squabbles to Delhi and turned them into a war cry against the BJP. Then, out of the blue, Gorakhpur and Phulpur happened and it made all the difference. The BJP has been reduced to a wafer-thin majority in the Lok Sabha – 273! And two of the 273 MPs – Shatrughan Sinha and Kirti Azad – like deer ready to bolt. The pair have no love lost for PM Narendra Modi or FM Arun Jaitley.
Not surprisingly, the YSRCP was off the block first with its no-trust motion. The TDP eased in its own only on Friday after quitting the NDA. The YSRCP despite being the smaller party struck big. Jagan Mohan Reddy tweeted that the TDP was “following” in YSRCP’s wake. Embarrassing for Big Brother!
Then there are the media – vernacular and mainstream. “Trust me, the trust vote moved by the TDP against the Modi government will succeed, I’m confident,” said an Andhra Pradesh journalist, his voice scratchy, somewhat like the anti-Modi alliance shaping up.
Andhra Pradesh journalists have a special soft corner for the TDP. With reason, too: On Thursday, the AP government constituted a committee to formulate guidelines for allotment of three-bedroom flats to journalists under the Journalist’s Housing Programme. Even earlier, journalists of a united AP were beneficiaries of government largesse. Journalists of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have always been a pampered lot. And getting good press in return.
The reality is Chandrababu Naidu has been promising the moon to the people of Andhra Pradesh. But after 4 years of rule, he has nothing to show despite 29 visits to New Delhi to shake hands with Modi and 16 overseas trips to woo investment.
The 68-year-old is desperate especially with the YSRCP breathing down his neck. It was Goebbels who said that the “great masses of the people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.” And Chandrababu Naidu has allegedly uttered some very big lies, say some ‘honest’ AP journalists, between 1995 and 2004. What’s more, people fell for the big lies. Then POTUS Bill Clinton and Bill Gates proclaimed Naidu a visionary”. The international media ate out of his palm.
But despite the favourable press, Naidu lost in 2004. In 2014 he rode to power piggyback on the Modi-wave. The decade 1995-2004 saw a spate of farmer suicides. Hundreds of farmers consumed the pesticide Endosulfan and the state banned the pesticide. Chandrababu Naidu always believed that agriculture was a waste of time. He often said the only ‘ism’ worth its “ism” was “tourism”.
Ever since the bifurcation of the unified Andhra Pradesh, in which he was heavily invested in, Chandrababu Naidu assiduously wooed the media, offering editors in key positions land and even low-interest loans to construct houses besides all-paid foreign junkets. But it did not help him in 2004 and once bitten twice shy; he imagines a similar debacle in 2019.
Andhra Pradesh and TDP now stand at a crossroads. Naidu has failed to deliver on his many promises. The state’s much-hyped capital Amrawati is still a long way from completion and needs a vast amount of finance – Rs 40,000 crore, to shape up in it promised glory.
The TDP’s vote share has been falling and that is worrying Naidu. There are allegations that while the rich and his own family prospered, the people of the state became poorer and poorer. The state’s debts have mounted from Rs 90,000 crore in 2014 to Rs 2,60,000 crore – debt mounting to 29% of the state’s GDP.
For Chandrababu Naidu to get his 2019 Thanksgiving Turkey, he will have to cook Narendra Modi’s goose. And therein lies the no trust. (IPA Service)