2019 seems to have brought good fortunes for the YSRCP. The party under the leadership of Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy has not only secured 151 out of 175 assembly seats but has also won 22 out of 25 Andhra Pradesh Lok Sabha seats, essentially ousting Chandrababu Naidu led TDP from the state. Now, the ambitious YSRCP seems to want to further strengthen its position in the country and hence developments indicating an alliance with BJP are clearly visible.
Jaganmohan Reddy’s hold over Andhra Pradesh in the current scenario is unprecedented and the leader thus needs to plan his next move very carefully. Amidst such circumstances, an alliance with the ruling BJP would be the most profitable for the state and recent developments indicate exactly so. A few days ago, PM Modi had arrived in Andhra Pradesh to offer prayers to Lord Venkateswara in Tirupati and was accompanied by Jaganmohan Reddy for the same. Before that, the Chief Minister along with other dignitaries and senior officials had warmly welcomed PM Modi at the airport where, after handing him a bouquet of flowers; Reddy had twice tried to touch Modi’s feet.
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The Prime Minister had stopped him, lifted him up and patted his shoulder in an affectionate manner. While touching an elder’s feet is intrinsic to the Indian culture as a mark of showing respect, such a practice doesn’t strictly fall under the established protocols of interaction between the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister.
The camaraderie had given rise to speculations of YSRCP joining the NDA coalition. The speculations have now been further strengthened with BJP possibly offering the post of deputy speaker of the Lok Sabha to the YSRCP. According to Times of India, The BJP has reportedly offered the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha post to the YSRCP, which is currently the 4th largest party in the Lok Sabha. BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao met with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy on Tuesday to hold a closed-door discussion during which the post is said to be offered to the party. According to sources in the YSRCP, the offer for the Deputy Speaker post has been made to the party, and it came with the blessings of PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. The YSRCP had reportedly sought time to discuss the offer.
If this post has indeed been offered and is subsequently accepted by YSRCP, it would lead to huge ramifications for both the parties. The BJP would be risking wrath from its ally in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena which has staked a claim on the position of the deputy speaker. Sanjay Raut, the Rajya Sabha MP of the Shiv Sena had earlier stated that the Deputy Speaker post is their “natural claim” and “right”. Meanwhile, the YSRCP is unsure of the reaction from its voter base, a large part of which comprises of Muslims and Christians.
Andhra Pradesh has been vying to get a “special category status” (SCS) from the centre citing the bifurcation of the state and the funds spent on developing a new capital. The BJP in its response had offered a “special package” which had been rejected by the then CM, Chandrababu Naidu. Reddy had also continued with the demand for the SCS and this alliance will probably help soothe things between the center and the state. Reddy’s acceptance of the special package would help the debt-ridden state get funds and proceed on the path to development.
It is no secret the opposition to BJP at the center; Congress supports YSRCP’s opposition in the state, TDP. Before the announcement of the election results, UPA President Sonia Gandhi had approached Naidu to ally together in case of a hung verdict, as was being anticipated by the opposition. Therefore, it makes even more sense that YSRCP should seek BJP’s support at the centre, added to the fact that even though Reddy is a Christian, he never shies away from performing Hindu rituals.
The situation with West Bengal too is a common ground for the 2 leaders. TMC and BJP have emerged as arch enemies in recent times, with BJP coming out as the main opposition to Mamata Banerjee’s tyrant rule. Reddy’s opposition Naidu and Mamata Banerjee share extremely cordial relations with one another, rallying for each other. An alliance with each other would be beneficial for both the parties at this stage.
Jaganmohan Reddy is an extremely opportunist leader, given that he applied his brilliant political acumen in appointing electoral wizard Prashant Kishor ahead of the assembly elections, who helped him emerge victorious. Now, choosing to be a part of NDA will reap further electoral benefits for the leader.