Divided opposition may help Congress breathe easy (Andhra Pradesh Newsletter)
By Mohammed Shafeeq, Hyderabad, March 15 : One rarely comes across a situation in politics where the main opposition party is seen as trying to save the ruling party -- but that is what Andhra Pradesh is currently witnessing.
Main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is facing allegations from two other key opposition parties that it is going all out to protect the Congress government in the state.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and YSR Congress party gave separate notices for a no-confidence motion in the state assembly, charging the government with all-round failure and anti-people measures.
The TDP refused to support either of them.
This prompted the two parties to allege that TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu is 'hand-in-glove' with the ruling party. "This has exposed the true face of Mr. Naidu," TRS leader Harish Rao said.
YSR Congress, often taunted by Naidu as "Congress party's child", has found reason to hit back, accusing him of "match-fixing" with the ruling party.
"There is no doubt that Mr. Naidu has colluded with the ruling party to save it," said YSR Congress leader Shoba Nagi Reddy.
With the speaker Friday admitting the motion moved by the TRS supported by YSR Congress and smaller parties like Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the TDP will be under pressure during the debate to prove that the allegations of a secret deal with the Congress are baseless.
TDP has already said it would not fall into the trap of the two parties. "We know when to move a no-confidence motion. We are not here to help them implement their agenda," said TDP legislator D. Umamaheswar Rao.
The division among opposition ranks is wide open, much to the delight of the Kiran Kumar Reddy government, which is facing its second no-confidence motion in 16 months.
Both TRS and YSR Congress had backed the no-confidence motion moved by the TDP in December 2011, which the government defeated by 160 to 122 votes.
But the situation has changed since then, with both TRS and YSR Congress improving their strength in the house and Congress and TDP losing some of their legislators to the two parties, mainly to YSR Congress.
Congress's tally was 155 in the 295-member house in 2011, but nine legislators have since switched loyalties to YSR Congress, which officially has 18 members.
TRS has 17 members.
Political observers say the position of the Congress this time is precarious, compared to 2011. Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) also recently withdrew support to the government. The MIM, which has seven legislators, had backed the Congress the last time it faced a no-confidence motion.
However, the Congress is receiving support from unexpected quarters.
TDP, whose strength has also dwindled from 85 in 2011 to 77 now, is not ready to join hands with TRS or YSR Congress.
Chandrababu Naidu says that both TRS and YSR Congress were resorting to blackmail. He believes that while TRS has moved the motion for a "package" from the Congress, the YSR Congress wants bail for its chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, in jail on corruption charges.
By backing the no-confidence motion, TDP also does not want to be seen siding with TRS, which vowed many a time to finish it off in the Telangana region.
For the TDP, the YSR Congress is the main rival in Rayalaseema and Andhra regions.
Enjoying this interesting war within the opposition and refusing to attach any importance to either TRS and YSR Congress, Kiran Kumar Reddy believes the TDP would be his main rival in next year's elections.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)