YSR Congress backs TDP move, pushes for no-confidence motion against Modi government
“We have shown patience for four years. I tried to convince the Centre… The Centre is not in a mood to listen,” TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu said.
Earlier, Finance minister Arun Jaitley’s promise to give “monetary equivalent” of a special category status to Andhra Pradesh had failed to pacify Telugu Desam Party, which announced late on Wednesday that it would withdraw its two ministers from the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government.
The announcement was made by Andhra Pradesh chief minister and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu after an hour-long meeting with party MPs, MLAs and cabinet colleagues. Civil aviation minister A Gajapathi Raju and minister of state for science and technology YS Chowdary will submit resignations to the prime minister on Thursday.
Naidu said he had tried to reach out to PM Modi to convey his party’s decision before publicly announcing it, but in vain. “We have shown patience for four years. I tried to convince the Centre… The Centre is not in a mood to listen,” he told reporters in Amravati, the capital of Andhra.
Asked if TDP would sever ties with NDA, the TDP supremo said his party will decide the future course of action based on the response from BJP. Naidu said FM Jaitley had given the impression that TDP was asking for “too much”.
“FM Jaitley today not only de nied special category status to Andhra Pradesh as promised under the state reorganisation Act but also spoke in a way of insulting and humiliating the state by trying to project as if we were making unjustified demands against national interests,” said the Andhra CM.
Naidu, who spoke in the state assembly earlier on Wednesday, reiterated the demand for special category status benefits for the state, rebutting the central government’s claim over implementation of promises made under the state reorganisation Act. He said it was BJP’s “moral responsibility” to fulfil the promises made during the bifurcation of the state.
TDP’s decision to withdraw ministers could be a last ditch attempt to bargain with the NDA regime at the Centre. It also sends the message to the people of Andhra Pradesh that the party tried its best to wrest special category status for the state but was let down.
The TDP announcement comes a year before Andhra Pradesh polls that will be held along with the 2019 general elections. The party was under pressure in the state as rival YSR Congress Party had often alleged that despite being an ally of the ruling BJP at the Centre, TDP had failed to get special category status for Andhra.
TDP’s decision would be a déjà vu for BJP as the southern party had similarly walked out in 2004, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister.
BJP’s allies have been unhappy with it for the past few months. Shiv Sena has declared that it will contest the next general and state elections without an alliance with the BJP while Shiromani Akali Dal has complained that the saffron party does not respect its allies. Tension had been brewing between TDP and the Modi government for some months. Naidu had made 29 trips to New Delhi before he could have a structured meeting with Modi in January this year. On its part, the Centre said it was bound by the 14th Finance Commission directive that no state could be given special category status, barring the three hill states and the North-East states.
Sources at the Centre also rued that the Naidu government was demanding huge funds for building Amravati and the Polavaram project. Finance Minister Jaitley had held several meetings with Telugu Desam Party ministers but without any result.
Earlier on Wednesday evening, Jaitley held a press conference in New Delhi emphasising that the Centre was committed to giving monetary equivalent of special category status to Andhra Pradesh where it would bear 90% of the funds for centrally sponsored schemes and also grant other financial benefits to the state.