Three financial documents – finance commission report, railway and general budgets – presented in the past week have exposed a political rift developing between the allies Narendra Modi and Nara Chandrababu Naidu.
The chief minister of Andhra Pradesh who is from some time peeved at the Modi government for not extending benefits to his revenue deficit hit state has on Saturday become openly critical of the centre.
“I expected the budget to be kind to us but it poured water on the aspirations of the people of new Andhra. We are not able to digest the way Andhra was dealt with in the document,” Naidu who had before expressed displeasure over the finance commission recommendations for his state and the allocations made in the railway budget said.
The residual state of Andhra Pradesh states as suffering a huge revenue deficit (running into about Rs 16,000 crore in 2014-15 only) and the absence of growth engines like Hyderabad which it lost to Telangana.
The BJP had supported the bifurcation bill brought by the UPA but went together with TDP in the 2014 polls. And Modi while campaigning along with Naidu had promised special support to the state. TDP had joined the NDA government in May and in June, Naidu also entertained BJP by making two of a total four MLAs ministers in his cabinet.
Now, Naidu is questioning the Modi government if it “was not their responsibility to facilitate a level playing field for Andhra which is suffering a handicap due to the bifurcation.”
In a strategic move, Naidu has on Sunday met super star turned politician Pawan Kalyan, whose support helped the TDP-BJP combine’s victory in the general elections.
In a series of tweets last week, Kalyan has already reminded the BJP of its poll promises like ‘special category status’ to the split hit Andhra. It is understood that Kalyan would go to Delhi soon to meet the PM on this issue.
Union minister Venkaiah Naidu was in Hyderabad on Sunday and attempted a damage control saying that his government would be receptive to Naidu’s concerns but he too found difficulty in a presser answering the questions over special status and monetary support for the new capital etc.
Meanwhile, the Congress which suffered a death blow in the polls due to its division decision is seeking to gain momentum with this subject. In a rally held at Vijayawada, the Congress demanded the exit of TDP from the Modi government “as Naidu failed in extracting the mileage out of the alliance.”
Some seniors in the TDP too are expressing displeasure over “Modi’s treatment of Naidu.”
“We don’t understand if the BJP sees us as an ally or as an opposition,” said deputy chief minister K E Krishna Murthy.
Though Naidu denied any political gap between him and Modi, the tone he assumed now has prompted the state ministers to start speaking against the BJP’s dealing of Andhra. A few leaders have in particular ridiculed the allocation of Rs 100 crore for the mega project Polavaram on Godavari.
However the party leaders opine that there would be no use, at this juncture, in exiting the BJP government or confronting Modi. “We require BJP's support and it’s not the other way around. It is better to be patient for some more time,” a TDP Lok Sabha MP tells HT.