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TDP breaks ranks with NDA, attends Parliament

Friday 6 May 2005, by VYAS*Neena

Senior party leaders indicate a clear political line will emerge later

NEW DELHI: The Telugu Desam Party on Thursday sent out a signal that it was the beginning of the end of its relationship with the National Democratic Alliance when it broke rank with it and attended Parliament, even if "under protest". Senior TDP leaders indicated that at the party’s general session (Mahanadu) later this month, a clear political line was likely to be made public.

They viewed this development as a move by the TDP to support the idea of a third front, which is also the long-term goal of the Left.

Although the Bharatiya Janata Party emphasised the "under protest" part, TDP sources pointed out that the decision to go back to Parliament was taken at a meeting of the parliamentary party chaired by their leader, Yerran Naidu, after clearance from the TDP chief and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu.

Issue-based support

"Henceforth, we will give support on the basis of issues, whether raised by the BJP or the Communist Party of India (Marxist), for example," Mr. Yerran Naidu said. He said that his party on Thursday supported the Aquaculture Bill as the setting up of a regulatory authority was important for Andhra Pradesh, which has a long coastline, and from where shrimp exports were significant.

Privately, TDP sources described the decision to go back to Parliament as the first step towards carving out a political plan what would mean "distancing itself from the BJP." At the same time, it was made clear that the TDP would not at all give up its Opposition space and would support the BJP and the NDA "on issues on which we are in agreement with them."

In the morning Mr. Yerran Naidu met the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Somnath Chatterjee, to convey the TDP decision to him and to tell him that the Opposition parties should be treated as "friends’, a proposition which the Speaker apparently agreed to. Later Mr. Naidu said: "People were not happy with the boycott of Parliament. After all, we are elected to go to Parliament and raise people’s issues."

There was clear indication that the TDP would not attend any NDA meetings, not even the floor coordination meetings in which it has been participating. "There is no necessity for us to attend NDA floor coordination meetings. We were never part of the NDA," Mr. Naidu emphasised.

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