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Jaitley's Budget strains BJP ties with allies

February 03, 2018 12:16 IST

The BJP leadership believes these parties are flexing their muscles in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls for better seat-sharing deals.
Archis Mohan reports.

The Telugu Desam Party, a key ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, on Friday, February 2, said it was disappointed with the Union Budget, but would not walk out of the National Democratic Alliance just yet.

The Shiv Sena, another key ally, said it remained to be seen how much of the Budget presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday was implemented on the ground.

The statements by these two parties have added to the murmurings of discontent within the BJP-led NDA.

In recent days, several of the BJP's important allies have become more vocal in their criticism of the Narendra D Modi government.

The BJP leadership, however, believes that these parties are flexing their muscles in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls for better seat-sharing deals.

The TDP complaints come in the wake of reports in Andhra Pradesh media that the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSR Congress is warming up to the BJP.

 

On Friday, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the Gujarat elections were a trailer and the BJP's losses in the Rajasthan by-polls the interval.

'Now, we will show the entire film in 2019. There is no going back on our decision to go it alone in the Lok Sabha polls,' he said.

Raut said the Modi government's 'last full Budget was a good read but only on paper'.

'We will need to wait at least a month to assess if its so-called farm friendly measures are effective on the ground and whether it succeeds in putting a stop to farmer suicides in Maharashtra,' Raut said.

TDP sources say at the party's coordination committee meeting in Amaravati, Andhra Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu apparently dissuaded his senior party colleagues from speaking about the fate of the alliance with the BJP and dwelt on the Rajasthan bypoll results

The TDP said it was 'disappointed' that the FM did not address the state's needs, but the party won't opt out of the alliance yet. This was indicated by Naidu at the coordination committee meeting, party sources said.

Sources said the meeting discussed the 'injustice' heaped on the state in the Budget proposals and there was a 'strong mood' among TDP leaders to break away from the alliance with the BJP.

Senior TDP leaders said off the record that almost everyone, including many district unit chiefs, wanted the TDP to end the alliance with the BJP after the Budget 'ignored' the state.

Not just the Sena and TDP, some of the BJP's allies in Bihar have also taken to complain that their concerns are being neglected.

On Monday, January 29, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh claimed that the Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular were in talks with his party.

Kushwaha's RLSP has three seats in the Lok Sabha while Manjhi's party contested the Bihar assembly polls in 2015 as a BJP ally.

On Thursday, February 1, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar lauded the Budget, but his party has ruled out any possibility of heeding the PM's call to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and Bihar assembly polls.

Shiromani Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal also complimented the FM for a farmer-friendly Budget, but his party is weighing its options for the Lok Sabha polls.

TDP sources said the Rajasthan by-poll results -- where the BJP tasted defeat in the Ajmer and Alwar Lok Sabha constituencies and in the Mandalgarh assembly seat -- according to Naidu, are a clear example that people will be unsparing if governance is not good.

Naidu also reportedly expressed 'serious displeasure' over the Union Budget and wondered why the Centre ignored the state.

'Bengaluru, Mumbai and Ahmedabad got a substantial allocation for various projects, but none of our projects, including the Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam Metro rail, got anything,' one of the TDP sources quoted Naidu as saying at the meeting.

'At the time of the state bifurcation, I was the only one who demanded equal treatment to both the states. Though gross injustice was done to Andhra on account of bifurcation, I aligned with the BJP only because having good relations with the Centre could undo the injustice,' Naidu apparently told the TDP leaders.

IMAGE: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at Parliament House before the Budget Session. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

Archis Mohan
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