AP parties lead no-confidence: BJP may win the vote, but it has lost south allies

There’s no doubt that Parliament will vote in favour of the BJP. But with this move, it’s clear that the party has no-confidence among a majority in south India.
AP parties lead no-confidence: BJP may win the vote, but it has lost south allies
AP parties lead no-confidence: BJP may win the vote, but it has lost south allies
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What was set off on Friday in the Lok Sabha by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) will only reach its logical end on Monday. The no-confidence motion moved by the two Andhra parties, both trying to one-up each other, and both trying to touch the hearts of the voters of their state – has set the cat among the pigeons.

Theoretically, at least, the two parties have found support from several others – all unhappy with the BJP for one reason or the other.

And while despite its breakup with the TDP, the BJP will perhaps comfortably pass this test on the floor of the House, what it has lost by alienating the TDP is south India. Political parties in all five southern states of Telangana, Andhra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are likely to vote against the BJP.

It’s possible that the YSRCP might be playing a game by ensuring the breakup of the TDP and the BJP, in order to enter the NDA – but whether they will put that into action before the no-confidence vote remains to be seen.

Besides, the very fact that a no-confidence motion is moved and finds a significant support will come as an embarrassment for the party.

The numbers game

Once a no-confidence motion is moved in the Lok Sabha, the support of at least 50 members is needed to admit the motion, which is then followed by a vote. Keeping this in mind, the YSRCP had asked its MPs to meet the floor leaders of all the main parties in the Parliament and gather their support.

Meanwhile, the TDP has been going around collecting signatures of individual Parliamentarians and has said that it is confident of gathering at least 54 signatures.

Besides these numbers for the initial admission of the motion, do the parties have enough support to make a mark on the floor of the House?

Short answer: Yes and no.

TDP and YSRCP will in all probability not win the motion in the House. However, they will be able to demonstrate the point that they do want to put across: BJP is not as strong as it was before, and unless it respects federal autonomy, it will lose more and more support to keep its government running.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over in 2014, the BJP had won 282 seats in the Lok Sabha while the NDA coalition had 336 seats. While it enjoyed a comfortable majority, at present, the BJP only has 274 seats, which is just over the halfway mark of 270 in the 539-member House (minus the Speaker).

Clearly on the other side are TDP, with 16 seats, and YSRCP, which has 9 seats. The Congress, with its 48 MPs, has said that it will support any party including the TDP and the YSRCP if a no-confidence motion is moved on the floor of the House.

Hyderabad MP and Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted a picture, which showed that he had signed the TDP letter, supporting the no-confidence motion moved by him.

The party with the third highest number of seats in the Lok Sabha – the AIADMK – has made some noises of discontent. The party is under pressure from the opposition and the farmers of Tamil Nadu to do something about the formation of the Cauvery Management Board. While the board is believed to be a mandate of the Supreme Court judgment in its order on the Cauvery water sharing issue, the fact that it hasn’t been clearly spelt out is being used by the Centre to play a waiting game and support Karnataka on the issue.

YSRP has made clear overtures to the AIADMK over the issue. Speaking to the media, YSRCP MP Vara Prasad Rao said, "We have sought the support of AIADMK for the no-confidence motion. I had served as Pudukottai collector and served in TN for 25 years. I am saying, Cauvery Management Board is the only solution for the Cauvery issue. Our wholehearted support for TN on this issue."

In the face of this standoff, AIADMK MP KC Palanisami told a TV channel that if the Centre doesn’t form the Cauvery Management Board, the party will support the no-confidence resolution.

That’s 37 more seats against the BJP.

Meanwhile, Mamata Banerjee, too, is not a friend of the party. Taking to Twitter, the TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister said, "I welcome the TDP's decision to leave the NDA. The current situation warrants such action to save the country from disaster. I appeal to all political parties in the Opposition to work closely together against atrocities, economic calamity and political instability.”

While no official announcement has been made, the 34 MPs from her party could vote in TDP's favour if the no-confidence motion was introduced.

Another disgruntled BJP ally is the Shiv Sena, which has 18 members in the Lok Sabha, and could decide to tell their ally off with their vote during the motion.

The TRS with 11 seats and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) with 9 seats, have also extended support to Andhra Pradesh, for the cause of granting Special Category Status (SCS) to the state. The ruling-TRS in Telangana is also miffed with the Centre, as it has been demanding an increase in the job quota in the state beyond 50%.

That’s 135 MPs possibly supporting the no-confidence motion right there. Add to this the CPI, SP, NCP, RJD, AAP and AIUDF, the number could go up to 155.

Of course, this is considering YSRCP stays the course – so give or take 9 MPs in the bargain if they decide to jump ship.

Either way, not enough to be a threat to the BJP as far as its government goes. But is it enough to make a dent in its image – and to send out a message that the south is unhappy with the current dispensation?

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