New Delhi/Amaravati: In a major setback to the BJP, the TDP on Friday quit the NDA and tabled a no-confidence motion against the Modi government over its refusal to grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh, a move that may herald a new political alignment before the next year Lok Sabha polls.
The TDP with 16 MPs in the Lok Sabha -- the second biggest ally of the BJP after the Shiv Sena (18) -- announced the decision to exit from the NDA after Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu held a politburo meeting through teleconferencing with his MPs in Delhi.
The Modi government, however, said it had the numbers in Parliament to defeat the motion. On a rough count, the ruling NDA -- minus TDP -- appears to have the support of 315 members in a House with an effective strength of 538. On its own, the BJP has 274 members -- well above the halfway mark to prove its majority.
The TDP decision -- two days after the BJP lost both the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh and one in Bihar -- came as a game of one upmanship went on with its rival in Andhra, the YSRCP, which has also tabled a similar motion in the Lok Sabha.
On March 8, the TDP had pulled out its two Ministers -- Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Y.S. Chowdary -- from the Modi government. The TDP is the first party to leave the coalition since it came to power at the Centre in 2014.
TDP's Thota Narasimham and and Y.V. Subba Reddy of the YSR Congress tabled the no-confidence motions with the Lok Sabha Secretary General, drawing instant support from opposition parties like the Trinamool, CPI-M and AIMIM.
The Congress and the AIADMK didn't make it clear whether they would support the motion. But the Congress said it has always supported the demand for special category status for Andhra Pradesh, an issue on which the TDP quit the NDA.
Naidu told the Andhra Assembly that the TDP's withdrawal from the NDA was not taken for selfish reasons but in the interest of the state on which injustice has been committed by the BJP. He asked his partymen to be one in facing the BJP challenge.
He also told the politburo members that he would write to other constituents of the NDA to explain why he joined the front four years ago and what made the party to pull out.
During the teleconference, Naidu lashed out at the BJP and accused it of using YSR Congress leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy and Jana Sena party President Pawan Kalyan to weaken the TDP.
He said both Jagan and Pawan had a secret understanding with the BJP. He said while Jagan entered into a secret deal to save himself in several corruption cases, Pawan was targeting the TDP instead of pulling up BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not fulfilling the commitments made to Andhra Pradesh.
The TDP had been expressing its unhappiness with the BJP over the last few weeks for not fulfilling the commitments made by the Centre to Andhra Pradesh after Telangana was carved out of it in 2014.
Its main demand was special status which would have ensured a large infusion of central funds to help the state tide over the revenue deficit and facilitate development of new state capital Amaravati.
Thota Narasimham of TDP submitted notices of no-confidence motion to the Lok Sabha Speaker.
The TDP and YSRCP attempted to rake up the issue in the Lok Sabha, telling Speaker Sumitra Mahajan that they want to move the motion. But the Speaker rejected it, saying she was duty bound to bring the notice to the House but it can't be done when the House was not in order due to disruptions.
Protesting AIADMK and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) members came near the Speaker's podium while those from the Congress, Left and some other parties stood at their seats. Mahajan adjourned the House till Monday.
The Trinamool Congress, with 34 Lok Sabha members, welcomed the motion.
"I welcome the TDP's decision to leave the NDA. The current situation warrants such action to save the country from disaster. I appeal to all political parties in the Opposition to work closely together against atrocities, economic calamity and political instability," West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee tweeted.
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said his party "supports the no-confidence motion brought against the BJP government" because its betrayal of the promise of special status for Andhra Pradesh is "inexcuseable".
The AIADMK with 37 members appeared not keen on backing the motion. Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker and AIADMK leader M. Thambidurai said the party high command would decide on the motion. But he added that there still was time for the Centre to implement the Supreme Court decision on setting up a Cauvery river management board.
The Shiv Sena, which has grievances against the ally BJP, did not reveal which way it will vote. Its MP Chandrakant Bhaurao Khaire said the Modi government doesn't consult allies on key matters while previous BJP Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee always carried allies with him.
The government said it was ready to face the no-confidence motion.
"We are ready to take up everything. We have always told the opposition, please cooperate in running the House to discuss banking irregularities and each and every issue, including confidence or no-confidence motion," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said.
The Akali Dal backed the government. "The Akali Dal is one of the oldest allies of the BJP. We have been together through thick and thin. We have weathered many storms in the past and we will weather this also," Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur said here.