As the second half of the budget session in Parliament begins to a rocky start, the entire state of Andhra Pradesh is looking at the proceedings with great interest. Since the AP Reorganization Act was passed by the Lok Sabha in 2014, despite strong protests, people are looking at the Lok Sabha for justice.
Almost all of the political parties including the ruling TDP and the opposition YSRCP, except the BJP, are now demanding that the special category status be accorded to Andhra Pradesh as per the promise made during bifurcation and all the provisions be fulfilled.
The recently released report of the JFC (Joint Fact-Finding Committee) showed that the Centre owes large sums of monies to A.P and special category status must be granted. Protests across the state organized by various political parties and civic forums are drawing huge crowds, conveying the sentiment of the people of A.P.
Pawan Kalyan, President of Jana Sena Party demanded that a no-confidence motion be pushed in Lok Sabha immediately. His argument is that the Centre is evading the topic and a no-confidence motion will ensure a full and proper debate in Lok Sabha instead of resorting to theatrics and symbolic protests.
The no-confidence motion is not meant to topple the government but to hold the Union government accountable for delivering promises made to the new state.
However, a lot of people, including Andhra Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, expressed doubts about whether the no-confidence motion will go through. The main concern expressed is about the number of MPs needed to get the motion accepted by the speaker.
Since Andhra Pradesh has just 25 MPs (all parties included), the concern appears justified on the surface. But if one looks at the positions of various parties in the current Lok Sabha, and the current political climate, it becomes clear that a large number of MPs will stand behind the MPs of Andhra Pradesh for various reasons. It may not be a cakewalk to gather support, but it’s not impossible either.
Politics is all about the fine art of gathering support and reconciling conflicting interests. Since Pawan Kalyan himself offered to reach out to other parties in other states, and Naidu has vast experience spanning four decades, and the fact that Telangana CM KCR and Congress President Rahul Gandhi expressed support publicly, I believe a lot more than the required 50 MPs can be put together.
In fact, my analysis shows (see table below), the efforts to table a no-confidence motion can get support from nearly 190 MPs. If so many MPs across parties and states lend their support, it sends a strong message to the Centre and forces them to respond without sidestepping the issue yet again, four years after the bifurcation.
Source : Party-wise Representation Of Members in 16th Lok Sabha, Official Loksabha Website
Rahul Gandhi has unequivocally demanded special category status for Andhra Pradesh. There is strong reason to believe he would ask the 48 MPs of Congress to play along so that his party can regain some foothold in the state after it got wiped out in 2014.
The Left parties have been on the streets for months, and it is likely they will gather all their MPs across states in support of no confidence motion. Akhilesh Yadav is strongly anti BJP and publicly expressed support to AP. Just this week, KCR spoke about the need for third front, adding that the Centre must make good of their promise.
These are signs that the tide is turning and opposition to BJP is building up in the context of 2019, Andhra Pradesh should leverage the situation as this is the last opportunity before the election season kicks in and the narrative changes.
All of this can only happen if all the political parties representing Andhra Pradesh come together for the sake of larger interests of the state, similar to how the parties of Telangana did before 2014, and actively seek support from all quarters, holding meetings, addressing concerns and finding common ground.
The people of Andhra Pradesh are expecting their politicians of all colours, to come together and end the politics of one upmanship and finger pointing.
If more than 100 MPs agree to stand behind the no confidence motion, it is logical to assume a free and fair debate takes place in the Parliament.
Srinivas Alavilli is an activist and commentator on politics. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own
Disclosure: Srinivas was a member of the JFC and co-authored a report on Human Development Indices of Andhra Pradesh.