YSRCP says MPs will quit Lok Sabha over AP special status: TDP begins to worry

Jagan is clearly positioning himself as a leader who has the state’s best interests at heart – as opposed to TDP, which is in alliance with the BJP.
YSRCP says MPs will quit Lok Sabha over AP special status: TDP begins to worry
YSRCP says MPs will quit Lok Sabha over AP special status: TDP begins to worry
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The political landscape of Andhra Pradesh is currently in chaos, what with the NDA-led central government refusing to allocate what the state – led by BJP ally TDP – had demanded in the Budget.

The TDP has been mulling a divorce with their alliance partner at the Centre as they face severe criticism in the state for failing to deliver despite having a friend in Narendra Modi. And in this mayhem, opposition YSRCP has found the perfect opportunity to gain some political capital.

The opposition party has now announced that unless the Centre gives an assurance on Special Category Status to Andhra by April 6, his MPs in Lok Sabha will resign en-masse.

“The special status is the right of people of Andhra Pradesh. It is the breath of a new life for the State. This agitation will not be stopped till the special status promise is conceded,” he reportedly said.

On the face of it, this might not seem like a potent threat: Only nine YSRCP MPs were elected to the Lok Sabha, of whom one defected to the TRS. Two others have reportedly stopped attending party meetings, and there is massive speculation that they have switched their loyalties to the TDP.

However, the real threat for the TDP is that, with this political gimmick, Jagan is positioning himself as the leader who truly cares for Andhra’s interests; a leader who, unlike Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, is actually doing something to put pressure on the BJP-led Centre.

The TDP – whose alliance with the BJP has been on the rocks ever since the unfavourable treatment of the state in the budget – is publicly claiming that Jagan’s move does not have them worried.

Buddha Venkanna, government whip and TDP MLC, speaking to local media dubbed YSRCP's decision as a "new drama", and asked why Jagan didn’t ask for Special Category Status when his party gave unconditional support for the Presidential and Vice Presidential elections.

However, highly placed sources in the party tell TNM that this calculated political move by Jagan has left them anxious. In fact, the threat by YSRCP has pushed them further to think about calling it quits on the alliance with the BJP.

“We are waiting to hear back from the BJP on our core demands. If they don’t meet our expectations, we will have to take a decision on whether to continue with the alliance or not,” a highly placed source in the party told TNM.

“Otherwise, the people won’t accept us,” the source added, revealing the real pressure that Jagan’s move has put on them: How the votes will sway.

It is for this reason that the TDP has been protesting against the BJP in Parliament, even when the Prime Minister was present. The fact that they did this despite being an alliance partner seemingly got them some favour in the eyes of voters, while the YSRCP – who also protested – did not gain much from their gesture.

But with the threat of resignation. Political observers say that Jagan is making the right moves to impress the people of Andhra.

Senior political analyst Nagaraju Jinka observed, "With this, he is hoping to steal the thunder from the TDP, which grabbed national attention by stalling Parliament for 10 days. Jagan’s MPs could not create much of an impact because of their limited strength in the House.”

Analysts believe that this is a sharp move by the YSRCP with an eye on the future. YSRCP seems to have made its decision thinking about  widespread speculation of an early Lok Sabha election at the end of 2019.

The move may also give a new lease of life to Jagan’s monotonous Praja Sankalpa Yatra (political walkathon) – which recently finished 1000 km as Jagan reached the coastal district of Nellore.

It is also an easy threat for the YSRCP to make, observers say, for two reasons. Firstly, there is little chance of a bye-election if the MPs do resign, averting the possibility of a humiliating defeat such as the one the YSRCP faced in the Nadyal bye-poll.

Secondly, the fact that the threat itself is of a resignation on April 6 – the last day of the Budget session of Parliament – means the stakes are quite low for the party, as the next Parliament session is several months away.

As a Constitutional expert points out, accepting a Lok Sabha MP’s resignation is the prerogative of the Speaker – who is the guardian of the House. The Speaker may or may not accept the resignation, and there is no time limit on the Speaker to take a decision.

According the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, a member can either personally hand over their resignation in writing to the Speaker, or send it to her as a letter. But they can change their mind about their resignation any time before the Speaker accepts it.

The Speaker is obligated to announce in the Lok Sabha that she has accepted the member’s resignation immediately after she makes her decision. However, the Parliament must be in session for her to make an announcement – and by threatening to resign on the last day of the current session, the YSRCP is clearly buying time.

Buddha Venkanna of the TDP is quick to point out the timing of Jagan’s threat. “Why are you waiting till April 6? If you have the guts, if you have any commitment at all, make your MPs resign tomorrow itself,” he challenged.

The YSRCP however insists that their only goal is to get Special Category Status for Andhra. Speaking to TNM, senior YSRCP leader and MLA, Gadikota Srikanth Reddy said, “We have said that we will resign, we have just given some time to the Union Government to take a decision, since Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has not spoken about the Special Category Status for four years. This is the reason why we haven’t gotten it yet.”

“Our ultimate goal is to protect the state’s interests,” he added.

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