BJP has begun to test its strength against Jagan government

Gali Nagaraja

Amaravati: The BJP is poised to unveil its politics of cannibalism in Andhra Pradesh as the Jaganmohan Reddy government has dispatched a couple of bills relating to the location of distributive capitals to Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan for his assent.

Curiously enough, the BJP’s Andhra unit president Kanna Lakshminarayana begins singing the same song being sung by the TDP till now by writing a letter to the Governor, urging him to put it on hold. The BJP leader, in the letter, has sought to pick holes in the bills in the manner in which the TDP’s Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Yanamala Ramakrishnudu has acted.

On Saturday, the government dispatched the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (Repeal Bill) Bill, 2020 and Decentralisation of Administration-Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill-2020 to the Governor. The bills faced hiccups in the Legislative Council after having been passed in the state Assembly. Initially, the council Chairman Shariff Mahammed Ahmed sent the two controversial bills to the Select Committee without giving scope for their introduction in the council. After a lapse of three months, the state Assembly had resent the two bills to the council on the last day of the budget session for reconsideration. On the second occasion too, the chair adjourned the house sine die without allowing the bills to be transacted in the council in view of the pandemonium that broke out.

Naidu’s struggle for regime protection

Jaganmohan Reddy, while in opposition, promised the unbundling of the capital in Amaravati into legislative capital, executive capital and judicial capital with Amaravati, Visakhapatnam and Kurnool as their locations respectively. Reddy’s capital shifting is allegedly aimed at dismantling the support base of the TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu, centering around Kammas, in Amaravati region. When the YSR Congress government commenced the process of capital shifting, the TDP has been sparing no efforts for its regime protection. A section of Amaravati farmers with TDP backing even moved the court against the capital shifting proposal and the case is pending disposal.

After his party’s humiliating defeat in the April elections in 2019, Naidu finds it very difficult to keep its flock together and save his party leaders from the arm-twisting of the Reddy government. Within a few days after the change of power in the state, TDP’s four Rajya Sabha members, three of them from Kamma community, switched loyalties to the BJP. The defections raised serious questions over the Naidu’s capabilities to protect the interests of his party’s core groups. The TDP’s vulnerabilities forced its leaders to look for greener pastures in the ruling party at the Centre.

One year later, the TDP’s leaders from the Backward Classes, another major vote bank of Naidu, came under threat from the Jaganmohan Reddy government. Former Minister for Labour and Employment K. Achan Naidu and former Excise Minister Kollu Ravindra were arrested in different cases, sending the BC ranks in the party in jitters.

BJP hopes to grow on TDP’s ruins

The BJP appears keen to step in the opposition’s space by cutting into the TDP’s support bases of Kammas and the BCs. If the BJP succeeds in stalling the capital project, it can obviously remain a protector of Kammas, who are feeling threatened under the Jagan Reddy’s regime. Kammas got high stakes in the capital region by having large swathes of lands under their control. Shifting of capital takes away value of their lands along with it, delivering a serious blow to the Kammas’ economic interests.

The Governor is unlikely to go ahead in haste with the capital related bills as he did in the promulgation of an ordinance that showed State Election Commissioner N. Ramesh Kumar the doors. The reason is obvious.

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