PM Modi refuses to come down heavily on Jagan making TDP-JSP uncomfortable in Andhra Pradesh

Modi in his 46-minute speech chose not to make aggressive remarks against YSRCP chief YS Jagan, except a mere comparison with the Congress.

ByBhaskar Basava

Published Mar 21, 2024 | 11:00 AM Updated Mar 21, 2024 | 11:00 AM

Pawan Kalyan, PM Modi, and Chandrababu Naidu.

In a strange and conspicuous absence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his 46-minute speech that kicked off the election campaign in Andhra Pradesh, did not make any direct remark against the local ruling party YSRCP and its chief YS Jagan, except for a reference to the party being equated with the Congress.

The primary and sole campaigner of the BJP and NDA has been touring states since the Election Commission announced the dates for the general elections in seven phases beginning on 19 April.

As part of his “4 June ko 400 paar” campaign, after reconciling with the TDP as an NDA ally, Modi addressed a large gathering in the small town of Palnadu in Andhra Pradesh on 17 March.

His only mention was, “Jagan’s party YSRCP and the Congress are not different but the same; these two are being run by one family only. It aims to split the anti-incumbency vote away from the NDA to the Congress.”

Incidentally, the prime minister’s claim goes against what TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu and JSP chief Pawan Kalyan have been saying — that it was Jagan who sent his mother and sister away from him after coming to power.

Also, Modi not making any remark against Jagan apparently didn’t go well with the TDP-JSP cadre who attended the event, as they were expecting Modi to launch a tirade against Jagan.

However, analysts point out that Modi is seen as indebted to Jagan’s favours and loyalty over the past five years, which led him to refrain from making any such comments.

Also Read: Why TDP bent over backwards to give BJP 25% of LS seats in AP

YS Jagan more loyal than Naidu

So far, Jagan has been taking a soft approach with the BJP over supporting all bills introduced in both Houses of Parliament.

In fact, he was the only non-NDA chief minister who attended the inauguration of the new Parliament building when other chief ministers from the South boycotted it.

A senior BJP leader on condition of anonymity shared that YS Jagan’s loyalty in Andhra Pradesh had put the BJP in a dilemma over whether to form an alliance with the TDP, whom they didn’t rely on much, considering that Naidu had been a senior leader and had the option to switch loyalties to the third front or the Congress.

On the other hand, YS Jagan, who had a rift with the Gandhi family over the question of his chief minister’s post and later floated a party, can’t go back to the Congress. Additionally, he cannot choose the third front, which is of no use to him as he also faces CBI and ED cases.

TDP chief Naidu, with a push from JSP chief Pawan Kalyan, was desperate to form a pact with the saffron party, as he believed that support from Delhi to his party would prevent the YSRCP from gaining an edge in poll management.

The desperation of both leaders could be observed in their immediate tours to Delhi. After TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu met NDA leaders on 7 February, YS Jagan met PM Modi the next day.

According to sources, YS Jagan asked NDA leaders not to fall for TDP’s trap, as Naidu has a track record as a defaulter. He assured the centre of the same support even after the elections and asked NDA leaders to carefully consider taking in the TDP.

The source further claims that YS Jagan said, “If in all circumstances, the NDA has to go with the TDP-JSP, nothing much should be different with the BJP-YSRCP, and the cooperation would continue with a soft approach post-poll as well.”

Related: Why are TDP supporters in Telangana in a quandary after party’s deal with BJP?

Why won’t Modi criticise Jagan?

Prof DAR Subrahmanyam, the chairman of Navyandhra Intellectual Forum, said that anyone expecting Modi to heavily criticise Jagan was mistaken. He explained that Jagan had shown loyalty to Modi on numerous occasions over the past five years, and Modi could not afford to take an aggressive stance against Jagan.

He added that the alliance was strongly desired by Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan, who wanted to remove Jagan from power at any cost. Kalyan understood that he could not achieve this with the BJP alone, as it lacks a solid base in Andhra. Therefore, he needs the TDP for support, he noted.

Moreover, Pawan Kalyan was unlikely to proceed without Modi’s approval, and he has been waiting for a long time to have an alliance with the BJP. “The entire cycle is clear, although the BJP, joined the alliance now, it does not necessarily mean that they would overlook YS Jagan’s past support,” he said.

The alliance between the TDP and the BJP is also much against the wishes of the cadres of both parties. As reported by South First earlier, the district BJP leaders are against an alliance with the TDP.

The district leaders justified that they have been working for the party for years but had to remain in the shadow of the bipolar political landscape in the state, where the two regional parties — the YSRCP and the TDP — held sway. They now want to be seen and heard in the state’s mainstream politics.

The leaders fear that the alliance with the TDP would obliterate their opportunity to emerge from the shadows. Earlier, a meeting convened by the BJP’s national leaders witnessed the party’s district office-bearers vehemently opposing the alliance with the TDP.

However, they changed their mind — albeit reluctantly — after senior leaders, including Kiran Kumar Reddy and Rajya Sabha member CM Ramesh, strongly favoured a tie-up with the TDP and the JSP.

A section of the TDP leaders, too, is against the alliance. They argue that Naidu is cutting the BJP too much in his eagerness to rejoin the NDA. This, they fear, could prove detrimental to the TDP, a formidable political force in the state, while being a windfall for the BJP, which currently lacks a substantial presence.