BJP caught flat-footed

BJP caught flat-footed

In the four years since it came to power on a grand note, the much-hyped and well-received slogan, ‘Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas,’ seems to be fading into oblivion. 

In the four years since it came to power on a grand note, the much-hyped and well-received slogan, ‘Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas,’ seems to be fading into oblivion.

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, just one punch-line echoed in almost every household – Ab ki baar Modi Sarkar. In course of time, it did happen.

Accompanying the euphoria was hope that if the Modi sarkar came to power, the country would be transformed on every count and that too in a short span. That was the impact the Modi wave created in the minds of every citizen. His critics were silent spectators.

In fact, the Modi persona assumed a magnitude that was larger-than-life, thanks to the overwhelming triumphs in successive Assembly polls. An impression that gained ground was that the BJP would rule the country for another five years, implying that re-election was a near-certainty.

However, the first setback came when the Union government took the drastic demonetisation step. The bolt from the blue earned Modi more enemies than thought of and that was the beginning of the end of the euphoria.

Though initially people firmly stood by Modi, they gradually realised that the desired results of demonetisation were not achieved.

To make matters worse, the GST was introduced amid hoopla, which barring Modi and Arun Jaitley no one understood. Many financial experts were also baffled. As for the people, they presumed that it would help in reducing the prices of goods and that they would get some financial relief. The bubble burst soon.

Forget financial gains, people now pay GST even for a haircut. While this was the national scenario, the BJP began an initiative that not only diluted the spirit of federalism but also resulted in political considerations getting an upper hand. Wisdom dawned on the party think-tank that notwithstanding the remarkable surge in North Eastern States, replicating such coups in Southern states was an improbable possibility.

The picture was so bleak that it nearly gave up hopes of winning a considerable number of seats in the south, including in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana State.

The Telangana government was unhappy that the Centre had failed to implement the assurances given in the AP State Re-Organisation Act and that it had snubbed TS by not taking into consideration the Assembly resolution it had passed enhancing the reservations for Muslims and STs.

When the Prime Minister perhaps told the Chief Minister of TS K Chandrasekhara Rao ‘Teekh hai hum Dekhenge’, he must have thought that the Centre would act on the resolution. When the ‘Dekhenge’ began looking like a mirage, Rao felt that there was a need for a federal front that could usher in ‘One Nation One Law’.

In Andhra Pradesh, leaders of TDP and BJP have been in a no-holds-barred verbal war over Central assistance since the Union Budget was presented and the yellow party alleged that the residuary State was completely ignored. Nothing was done to assuage the feelings of the people while, on its part, the Centre came up with new conditions even to extend financial assistance under special package.

It alleged that the State had not created a special purpose vehicle. This ‘tu tu my my’ ended with the TDP snapping all its ties with the BJP.

Meanwhile, the demand for special category became a major political issue with the TDP and the YSRCP fighting openly for gaining political one-upmanship. The Congress also wants to fish in the troubled waters but at the ground level. There is no denying that the battle is only between the ruling party and main claimant to power, the YSRCP.

Though the BJP knows that it cannot get any political mileage in the Telugu states, its actions have sent a strong message that it is acting in a vindictive manner. The way they are not allowing the no-confidence motion to be taken up in Parliament under the pretext that the Speaker is not able to count whether the motion has the support of required number of MPs or not sounds politically incorrect.

The Speaker has many options to ensure smooth functioning of the house unless the ruling party desires otherwise. The situation has now taken a new turn with the Congress also jumping into the fray and moving a no-confidence motion of its own.

The Centre did another flip-flop by announcing the release of Rs 1,400 crore from NABARD for the eagerly awaited Polavaram project. It is preposterous that it had reduced the amount by Rs 400 crore in less than 48 hours!

Irrespective of any ‘compulsions,’ at a time when passions are running high and people of the State are agitated over denial of special category status and non-release of funds under special package, the decision gives credence to the doubts that the Centre is indeed resorting to arm-twisting tactics, oblivious of the needs of the people of the State.

All that the BJP has gained by these tactics is to put the TDP in a tight corner and push it into a defensive situation with regard to the special category status. As if this is not enough, the saffron party has launched a social media war against TDP. It has come up with a graphic plate on Chandrababu Naidu calling him a ‘U’ Turn Uncle.

Not to be left behind, the tech-savvy TDP social media wing retorted by preparing a plate explaining what the BJP promised and what it gave. It also added an allegation that the PMO helped economic offenders like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya to escape from India.

A ground-check of what the pulse of the people of Andhra Pradesh particularly with regard to the political battle among YSRCP, TDP and BJP clearly indicates that the people are vexed with the Centre’s ‘betrayal.’

While the head-start the YSRCP had on the SCS issue helped them gain some advantage, a feeling is also gaining ground that Naidu was left helpless by the Centre, which was turning a Nelson’s Eye to the ground-realities. They feel that while Naidu should not have agreed for special package, they agree that in the last three years there has been infrastructural growth in the truncated State.

The way BJP leaders in the State went hammer and tongs in Assembly trying to paint a picture that unprecedented corruption had taken place in the Polavaram project had to eat humble pie as the Masood Committee, which went around the project site and also interacted with those who have been displaced, concluded that works were proceeding at a fast pace and that the affected people had got higher compensation.

In short, though not everyone is ready to absolve Naidu of the blame for failing to get SCS, a strong feeling is gaining ground that the Centre had left people of AP in the lurch and that it has not given Andhra what is due to it.

This has affected the interests of the people and farmers, they aver. It remains to be seen how effective the high-risk emotional pitch of Naidu about betrayal and attack on self-respect would be and what kind of results it would get for the party.

If the public opinion remains as it is now, the BJP can rule out its chances of making headway, once and for all.

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