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NDA ally Chandrababu Naidu disappointed with Budget, likely to review alliance with BJP

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), NDA’s big ally at the Centre, is unhappy with the Union Budget 2018, which, it said, hardly made any allocations for Andhra Pradesh. This morning, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, it is learnt, called a Cabinet meeting in Amaravati where he voiced his disappointment with the Budget in strong words. In an indication that the coalition could be in trouble, the CM is also likely to hold a meeting as soon as this Sunday or next week to review the TDP-BJP alliance.

TDP and BJP had contested the 2014 elections in alliance but relations between the two have since soured as the TDP felt that the Centre, after the bifurcation of the state in 2014, neglected Andhra Pradesh making it reel under huge revenue deficit. The state also believes that the Centre was not giving adequate funds for construction of its new capital, Amaravati.

However, with Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy of the Opposition YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) snapping at its heels, TDP is unlikely to take any step that would lead to severing of its ties with the BJP.

Recently, CM Naidu had asked his colleagues in the party and Cabinet to refrain from making any comments against BJP leaders or react to their criticism of TDP or even the CM. “I am sticking to the coalition dharma and keeping quiet. I am also restraining my colleagues from speaking out against the BJP. But if they do not want us, I will say ‘namaste’ and walk away,” he had said.

Moreover, TDP is not on a strong ground on its own. In spite of its alliance with the BJP in 2014, the party could manage to win with a slender lead of just 2 per cent votes against the YSRCP. The campaign by Telugu film star K Pavan Kalyan, a youth icon, helped TDP shore up support but in 2019 Kalyan indicated that his Jana Sena Party would contest on its own in some areas.

As of now, Jagan Mohan Reddy is on a state-wide ‘padayatra’ where he is accusing the Naidu administration of failing on all fronts. He has also stated that if the BJP promised to give Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh, his party was willing to join the NDA. Following this statement, some BJP leaders in Andhra Pradesh taunted the TDP and Chandrababu Naidu that BJP can work with YSRCP if need be.

Telangana, too, expressed disappointment over the Budget. Telangana Finance Minister Etela Rajender said the state had sought budgetary allocations for water supply project, Mission Bhagiratha and Mission Kakatiya, the lake and ponds revival project, as well as funds for the massive Kaleswaram irrigation project. However, none of it was even mentioned in the budget, Rajender said, adding there was a general allotment of Rs 440 crore for drinking water projects in fluoride affected districts. The demand for AIIMS to be set up in Hyderabad has also been ignored.

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