Late January, Shiv Sena broke away from BJP-Sena alliance in Maharashtra. Now, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh has withdrawn from the NDA government saying that the Narendra Modi government has neglected its grievances about Andhra Pradesh.
ThePrint asks: Has BJP’s big brother attitude damaged NDA beyond repair?
The BJP regards its allies as use-and-throw entities
Shiv Sena MP (Rajya Sabha)
The BJP regards its allies as entities that it can use and throw. This tendency of theirs has become more prominent after 2014. I would especially like to state that things were different earlier. Yes, there used to be minor wrinkles in the alliance, including the two parties’ stands on certain issues like seat-sharing, allocation of key posts and so on. But that is bound to happen in any relationship and these differences in opinion were manageable.
Now, the BJP is out to cruelly finish its allies though these are the very parties that helped the BJP grow.
The BJP wants allies to behave like its slaves, imposing its own terms and conditions on them. The Shiv Sena has never been a slave to anyone and does not agree with this treatment.
The BJP does not understand that parties like the Shiv Sena have developed regionally on the basis of self-respect. We are not hungry for power.
Moreover, the party fails to see that its success in 2014 was largely due to a strong anti-incumbency sentiment against the Congress, brilliant marketing of Narendra Modi by the BJP and the support of its allies.
Now that the Shiv Sena has decided to contest independently in 2019 polls, the BJP should worry more about what it stands to lose than what we stand to gain.
There are certain disagreements, but it is nothing like the one between Shiv Sena and BJP
President, Shiromani Akali Dal
How good BJP’s alliances are depends on and differs from state to state. We, the Shiromani Akali Dal, have had no problem with them. Of course, there are certain disagreements, but that’s the normal process of any alliance. Other than that, there have been no major disputes.
Our situation is nothing like the one between Shiv Sena and the BJP. Those are major disputes. Akali Dal and the BJP have had a long-standing relationship. Over the past 25 years, we have worked in tandem with each other. It is not a give-and-take relationship; it is one of mutual understanding. Moreover, it is in the interest of Punjab. After decades of militancy it is the SAD-BJP alliance which has helped unite the people in the state.
My father, Sardar Parkash Singh Badal, has always said SAD- BJP are like ghee-shakkar, which cannot be separated. And before anyone supported BJP at the Centre, we did it. We believe in maintaining old, long-standing relationships, even if there are ups and downs.
However, there is one suggestion that I would like to make. There should be regular meetings between the members of the alliance. BJP is the big brother of NDA. The BJP team should meet with the other parties so that the problems faced by regional parties can be better addressed. It will help them understand issues faced by them and solve them more efficiently.
The problem is that often minor disagreements are showcased as major problems. The UPA is hardly an alliance anymore; their parties are in disarray. The NDA alliance has a strong base. Our cadres work well with each other, and always have. Our base in rural areas is complemented by BJP’s hold in urban areas in Punjab.
Once the BJP secured majority, they stopped listening to friendly parties.
MP Rajya Sabha, TDP
Congress and the BJP divided the state of Andhra Pradesh, even though the BJP had opposed the bifurcation earlier. After the general elections, BJP came to power with a simple majority. Once they secured that, they stopped listening to friendly parties.
A lot of empty promises were made by the BJP. They had committed to providing special status to the state similar to what Himachal Pradesh has. It would have helped bolster industry and provide tax exemptions.
Instead, the BJP offered a special package, which too has not materialised. They are postponing the agreed upon requirements and demands. They promised a railway zone in Visakapatnam and a steel industry in Kadappa, but these projects have only been partially acted upon.
Through his address Hon’ble President has given all the details about schemes and commitments taken up the by the government. But the commitments and promises made to the state of Andhra Pradesh like funds to construct state capital Amaravati, release of deficit balance, construction of Polavaram National Project etc, as per the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014 have not been included.
I request the government to include all the promises along with the special financial package announced by the government to Andhra Pradesh, including the Visakhapatnam Railway Zone that was promised. The introduction of GST had problems in its implementation. Although we thank the President for taking up all the development schemes, the Centre must release funds for the same.
Now, both BJP and TDP have to fight the same battle — that is the upcoming Lok Sabha and assembly polls. The BJP is quickly losing the faith of the public and if we continue to associate with them, we will bear the stains of their failure as well.
Our responsibility is to our constituents and if the BJP will only make empty promises then we aren’t justified in allying with them. We have been very patient over the past three and a half years, but now the time for a final decision has come. The public is not likely to support the BJP or the TDP if the relationship continues like this.
Our alliances are based on ideology, not quid pro quo
I think it is most unfortunate for a party that has been large-hearted and taken everyone along to have its allies come out and say that they have been short-changed. Every party has their own goals and aspirations. They must be given the chance to grow in public. Then why shouldn’t the BJP do that too?
In case of the Shiv Sena, we have seen how many seats they won on their own and how they managed to gain because of the PM’s popularity. In the Lok Sabha, they were given their due share and in the assembly, it was justified to ask for a 50-50 division since they did use our political capital along with theirs.
This shows that the decisions we take are based on public sentiment, rationale and public mood. It is extremely unfair to say that we haven’t given a party their due considering we always give credit where it is called for.
Political space exists for everyone to encash upon.
As for the TDP, you cannot correlate a demand that you expect from the government to an ideology and position on which an alliance is based. An alliance is not supposed to be a quid pro quo, where you give something in exchange for something else.
Political pundits have observed that the BJP’s and the PM’s popularity have only grown since he is a man of vision and of forward thinking. He has a strong developmental agenda for the public of India. If a party breaks away because they do not agree with this agenda, it is one thing. But to say you aren’t being given special status and breaking away is quite another.
Compiled by Deeksha Bhardwaj, journalist at ThePrint.