Chennai: The exit of the Telugu Desam Party from the NDA and its decision to move a no-confidence motion saw collateral damage across the border.
Former MP and AIADMK spokesperson KC Palanisamy found himself expelled from the party for claiming that his party could vote against the BJP government in the Lok Sabha if it did not form the Cauvery Management Authority, as ordered by the Supreme Court.
The AIADMK is clear that 'Love thy neighbour' is not its philosophy and it is unlikely to vote in favour of the no-trust motion. There are several reasons why it does not feel the need to bat for Andhra Pradesh.
Special Category status, the principal demand of the TDP and the YSR Congress, will not only help Andhra financially by making the Centre bear 90 percent cost of centrally sponsored schemes but also enable the state to offer better incentives to investors. That will hardly be good news for Tamil Nadu that fears a flight of capital. The state has already lost a few projects to Andhra, with Kia Motors that moved to Anantapur being the biggest name. Sri City SEZ located strategically in Chittoor district, less than 30 km from the Andhra-Tamil Nadu border, also makes it very convenient for Tamil Nadu investors to cross into Andhra to set up shop.
Two, the argument is that the two Andhra parties are using the Lok Sabha to fight their battle of one-upmanship against each other and supporting them against the Centre will not help Tamil Nadu in any way. In fact, the AIADMK has termed the behaviour of the TDP as "opportunistic", asking why the issues after bifurcation weren’t raised in the last four years.
Edappadi Palaniswami, O Panneerselvam and party feel that there is no need to get drawn into the Andhra vs Delhi battle as being on the right side of the BJP will help them ensure their demands for Tamil Nadu are met.
Three, the argument that Andhra never raised its voice in support of Tamil Nadu when it was agitating for more Cauvery water for its delta. The AIADMK position, therefore, is tit-for-tat.
Four, the no-confidence motion is likely to be supported by the Congress, an ally of rival DMK in Tamil Nadu. That in itself is a good enough reason not to do what the DMK-Congress is doing, argues the AIADMK.
And finally, the BJP has effectively demonstrated how the AIADMK can be hit if it gets on the wrong side of New Delhi. The raids by CBI and Income Tax authorities have put the fear of God in the ruling party in Chennai and the leaders would not want to antagonise the BJP by supporting Naidu, who has fallen out of favour with Narendra Modi.
The DMK has dared the AIADMK to support the no-trust vote. While the argument for it is that the ruling party should use its strength of 37 as a bargaining chip to get the Cauvery Management Board constituted, the AIADMK feels that when it is sure the BJP government won't fall in Parliament, it does not make sense to antagonise it. EPS and OPS also think Stalin's advice to the AIADMK MPs to quit is mischievous as the DMK or the Congress have has no or minimal presence in Lok Sabha.
The AIADMK’s position is not surprising, even from a political point of view, as OPS is on record saying that he merged his faction with EPS’ ruling camp only on Narendra Modi's advice. It is obvious that the BJP is pretty much the new High command of the AIADMK.
The Dravidian party also points to how the BJP has been a friend that accommodated Thambidurai as the deputy speaker of the Lok Sabha. Therefore, the question of going against the BJP does not arise.
In the political chaos leading up to the TDP's exit from the NDA this week, Tamil Nadu has figured quite prominently. Naidu accused the BJP of trying to do a Tamil Nadu in Andhra, setting up Jagan Mohan Reddy and Pawan Kalyan against the TDP, just the way OPS was backed in his revolt against Sasikala by the saffron party. Naidu, too, has been inspired by Tamil Nadu, calling his rebellion against the NDA, a dharma yuddham (Holy war) — a leaf out of O Panneerselvam's book.
(Author is a senior journalist. Views are personal)