Congress gets a shot in the arm as two TDP ministers resign from Modi govt over Andhra special status

The Congress was quick to accuse the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “autocratic style of functioning” to drive home its point that all is not well in the NDA — to suggest that the group was “disintegrating”.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2018 23:28 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
TDP leaders Ashok Gajpatraju with Sujana Chaudhary addresses the media after submitting resignation to Ministry in New Delhi, India on Thursday, March 8, 2018. (HT Photo)(HT Photo)

The decision of two Telugu Desam Party (TDP) ministers to quit the Narendra Modi government has given fresh fodder to the Congress to corner the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

On Thursday, just hours after Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu announced that two of his party’s ministers would depart from the central government, the Congress was quick to accuse the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “autocratic style of functioning” to drive home its point that all is not well in the NDA — to suggest that the group was “disintegrating”.

“A parochial autocratic alliance led by the Prime Minister could never accept the divergence of opinion or plurality which is the essence of India’s foundational values,” Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said. “The splintering of the NDA is only a reflection of that philosophy of the Prime Minister and the BJP. It doesn’t start or end here,” he added as the main opposition party also alluded to the growing differences between allies Shiv Sena and BJP.

The party also targeted Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar whose ’Janata Dal (United)’s alliance with the BJP, it claimed, “was on the verge of collapse”.

“This talaq, remarriage and now possible talaq again has to be explained by Nitish Kumar himself,” Surjewala said, while seeking traction for its claim by pointing out Odisha’s ruling party Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) decision to snap ties with the BJP in 2009.

While the NDA is in disarray, the Congress is trying to expand the much-truncated United Progressive Alliance (UPA) by bringing all the non-NDA political parties to a single platform and prepare a joint strategy not only for Parliament but for the next Lok Sabha elections as well.

So far, as many as 17 Opposition parties, including the bitter West Bengal rivals Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Left, have on various occasions come together to attack the NDA government on several issues. The unity inside and outside Parliament on the defrauding of the Punjab National Bank and the escape of accused jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi has further energised the Opposition camp.

As part of the strategy, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has called a dinner-meeting of the Opposition parties at her residence on March 13.

Perhaps Gandhi’s move was prompted by the BJP’s stunning performance in Tripura and its ability to stitch alliances in Meghalaya and Nagaland despite being a small player in the
two states.

Though the TDP continues to be a part of the NDA at the moment, the Congress is hoping that the southern party will soon snap its ties. It even tried to woo its chief, Naidu, by praising him over his stand for the development of Andhra Pradesh.

“Let me recapitulate, Mr Naidu as the NDA convener was the first to speak against Mr Modi when he was the Gujarat chief minister. He showed the courage of conviction to say so and called a spade a spade,” Surjewala said in an apparent reference to the political developments following the 2002 Gujarat riots.

“Mr Naidu has now realised the futility of continuing in an alliance which only has disrespect and humiliation for the partners,” he said.

First Published: Mar 08, 2018 23:28 IST