Addressing the assembly on Wednesday, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu tried to play hardball, making a mention of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s offer of granting special category status to the state, if they come to power.
New Delhi: A day after Telugu Desam Party legislators demanded to pull out of the NDA over the special
category status issue, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu wondered why the BJP was not
responding to the needs of its alliance partner. Addressing the assembly on Wednesday, Naidu dropped
broad hints on the possibility of severing ties with the BJP, making a mention of Congress chief Rahul
Gandhi’s offer of granting special category status to the state if they come to power.
“Rahul Gandhi is saying they will give ‘special category status’ to AP if they come to power. Why are you
(BJP) not responding to the needs of your alliance partner?” the CM said. Naidu mentioned that the promise
of special category status was the only reason for BJP-TDP alliance and hinted that the party was
losing patience. “Special category status for Andhra Pradesh was the only reason for BJP-TDP
alliance. We have waited with patience for 4 years,” the CM said, adding that the BJP had shown double standards
for keeping its promise.
The development comes even as BJP allies in different states have expressed their resentment over its senior
partner. Shiv Sena has already decided to go alone in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, while Jitan
Ram Manjhi’s Hindustan Awam Morcha has joined the Bihar grand alliance.
On Tuesday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the party would grant special category status to
Andhra Pradesh if voted to power in 2019. “I am confident that if we stand together we will convince
the Government of India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi that what is due to the people of Andhra
Pradesh should be given to them,” he said.
In an impromptu poll held by Naidu during a legislature party meeting at Amaravati, about 95 percent
TDP MLAs and MLCs voted in favour of severing ties with BJP for its “refusal to help” Andhra Pradesh following
the state’s bifurcation in 2014. Naidu said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley “cold-shouldered” a
delegation led by state Finance Minister Y Ramakrishna met him on Monday evening. TDP is an ally
“Jaitley not only refused to acknowledge any of demands put forward, including the request to release
funds to bridge the revenue deficit gap of over Rs 16,000 crore, but also said there was no question of
granting Special Category Status and that there was very little fund left to give under the special
package announced in 2017 as most of the funds have already been given,” Naidu said.
The demand was raised after erstwhile Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated. The protesters claim that the bifurcation
caused a huge revenue deficit for the successor Andhra Pradesh. The Centre announced a
“special package” in 2016 for Andhra, but the TDP government claimed no funds have been released under the
package. This has turned the focus back on special category status for AP.