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TDP MP behind no-trust vote: 'BJP has a tough fight on its hands'

Last updated on: July 19, 2018 10:33 IST

'We have got our permutations and combinations in place.'
'We are also trying to garner support from some NDA allies.'
'Every section of society has suffered during the four years of Modi rule.'

 

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi with Bharatiya Janata Party ministers and leaders of other political parties after the all-party meeting ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament, July 18, 2018. Photograph: PMOIndia/Twitter

With Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan accepting Telugu Desam Party Member of Parliament Kesineni Srinivas's no-confidence motion against the Narendra Damodardas Modi government, hectic parleys have begun in the capital's corridors of power.

With the tabling of the motion set for Friday morning, every political party in the Opposition as well as the National Democratic Alliance, have begun confabulations to counter each other's moves when Parliament convenes on July 20 to discuss the motion, which will be later put to vote.

Srinivas will open and end the debate on the no-confidence motion.

The TDP, which had tried to table a similar motion in the Budget session of Parliament in March along with a number of Opposition parties including the Congress, is once again at the forefront of the move to dethrone the Modi Sarkar.

Even as it knows that the Opposition lacks the numbers on the floor of the Lok Sabha to see the motion through, Srinivas is tight lipped about the TDP's strategy.

When asked if the TDP, which reportedly has held discussions with a number of regional political parties opposed to the BJP, is also in talks with NDA allies, Srinivas tells Rediff.com's Prasanna D Zore, "I can't tell you everything at this moment. I have my limitations."

"I think the BJP has a very tough fight on its hands. I can't reveal the exact strategy and figures right now, but we have got our permutations and combinations in place," he says.

 

What has changed between the Budget session of Parliament and the Monsoon session that made the government amenable to facing a no-confidence motion? 

During the Budget session of Parliament the BJP was not in a position to accept or face the no-confidence motion. Because of that the whole session was washed out.

This time, however, the BJP is forced to accept the no-confidence motion because all the Opposition parties as well as the general public have forced it to accept it.

They know well that this session too will be washed out if they don't allow a debate on the no-confidence motion.

That's what they fear and that's the only reason they have agreed to face it.

But they are still not too willing to have a discussion during the motion because they fear the TDP as well as the Opposition parties will expose the blunders committed by the Narendra Damodaras Modi government in the last four years.

Since we are moving towards an election year they are scared to face such discussions on the floor of the House.

They want to run away from this discussion, but because of the fear of another washout they are under pressure and are forced to accept the motion.

If they were not to accept it, the House won't run (function). They have no other choice now.

The Speaker will give you the opportunity to open and end the debate on the no-confidence motion. What issues will you raise to expose the shortcomings of the NDA government?

Our (the Telugu Desam Party's) stand will be mainly around Andhra (Pradesh) issues.

We will be discussing a total of 18 issues including the promise of special status for Andhra Pradesh and how Modi failed to fulfil the promises he made to the people of Andhra Pradesh during his 2014 election campaign.

In 2014, when the Congress bifurcated the state in an unlawful, unscientific and unjust manner, the people of the state suffered lot of injustice.

We demand the fulfilment of all that the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 promised to the people of the state. We are demanding nothing unlawful.

Could you give us a peek into five important issues the TDP plans to raise and debate during the no-confidence motion?

The first and foremost issue will be the accordance of special category status for the state.

This was promised by the then prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh on the floor of the Rajya Sabha.

Similarly, BJP leaders like Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu, when they were in the Opposition, promised the same, but have now clearly failed.

The second demand is for the implementation of a separate railway zone for Andhra Pradesh.

The third issue is related to giving financial support to build the new capital of the state.

We were told that the loss we suffered when Hyderabad became the capital of Telangana will be compensated for, but they (the government) gave us only Rs 1,500 crore (Rs 15 billion) saying it will be sufficient for the purpose (of building a new capital).

During his election campaign, Modi's speech promising a capital bigger and better than Delhi for Andhra Pradesh went viral, but he has now forgotten his election promise.

With Rs 1,500 crore we can't even build a single three-star, four-star hotel.

At the time of our bifurcation into Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, we had a budget deficit of Rs 16,000 crore (Rs 160 billion) and Telangana had a budget surplus of Rs 12,000 crore (Rs 120 billion).

The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 agrees to compensate for this loss to the state, but the Centre has failed to fulfil this obligation as well.

The very first year they (the Centre) gave us Rs 3,900 crore (Rs 39 billion), but after that they stopped giving us any money at all (to compensate our budget deficit).

When the TDP had planned to table a no confidence motion during the Budget Session, TDP MP Y S Chowdary had told Rediff.com that Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu was personally speaking with various political parties to get the motion through.
Is Naidu in touch with all those leaders now that the motion will be tabled on the floor of the Lok Sabha on Friday?
What kind of parleys is the TDP engaging in for the success of this no confidence motion?

We (TDP MPs and legislators) have divided ourselves into various teams.

One of these teams met H D Kumaraswamy (Karnataka's chief minister).

Other teams are discussing strategies with DMK leaders, Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal.

One team is meeting Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party to flesh out our collective strategy.

We are also in touch with the CPI-M and CPI.

We were asked to split into several teams to meet different political party leaders and garner support for the no-confidence motion.

What role is Naidu playing to garner support from the Opposition parties?

He too is speaking with a number of leaders and he has also spoken with (West Bengal Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee. He is trying to unite the Opposition.

How will your math work? How many MPs' support will you have on Friday when the no-confidence motion is put to vote?

We will have people from all Opposition parties and we are also trying to garner support from some NDA allies.

Which NDA allies?

Like the Shiv Sena and the SAD (Shiromani Akali Dal).

Have you got any solid assurances from any of the NDA allies in support of this no-confidence motion?

What I can only say at this point is we are already having discussions with the Shiv Sena and SAD, but having said that, I don't think they will support us.

But we are still requesting them to support us.

Just like the TDP, the Shiv Sena too has been openly critical of the Modi government.
Have you got any solid assurances from the Shiv Sena about their support to this no-confidence motion?

Because they have their own interests (in supporting the government)... but we are trying.

How many MPs do you think will vote for this no-confidence motion?

I think the BJP has a very tough fight on its hands.

I can't reveal the exact strategy and figures right now, but we have got our permutations and combinations in place.

Are you saying the Modi government will find it tough to defeat the no-confidence motion?

Yes... yes...

The prime minister has to fulfil the obligations as laid down in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 and we will keep pressing for this demand.

What could be the political fallout of this no-confidence motion, whatever its outcome, against the BJP in Andhra Pradesh?

Even now they (the BJP's vote share) are less than one per cent only, but that is a different ballgame.

Across the country voters will come to know how they have failed in fulfilling their election promises to the people of India.

Wouldn't the ganging up of Opposition parties, given all their fundamental political differences, against Prime Minister Modi prove counterproductive for you all?
Why is everybody so opposed to one man?

Because whatever promises he made to all of us and the people of India, he has singularly failed in fulfilling them.

Now the farmers are on the road, labourers are protesting, unemployment is high and the youth of India are on the roads.

Every section of our society has suffered economically and socially during the four years of Modi rule.

There is a huge agrarian crisis facing the nation.

It is only natural that all these Opposition parties, which represent all these suffering sections of our society, would unite to expose such a government.

Do you really expect this no-confidence motion to go through considering that the BJP has almost 273 MPs of its own and there are a number of NDA allies that you say will vote for the government?

We are trying to take everybody's support.

What about cross-voting by BJP MPs, is that a possibility?

I don't think so because there will be a whip (for BJP MPs to vote against the no-confidence motion), but we are still trying.

Are you in touch with any BJP MPs?

I can't tell you everything at this moment. I have my limitations.

How will this no-confidence motion help Andhra Pradesh?

At least the BJP will start supporting the welfare of the people of Andhra Pradesh.

They can tell the country they are doing something that is just and fair for the people of my state.

Prasanna D Zore