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Special status: Andhra CM blasts Modi govt in assembly, stops short of quitting NDA

The announcement was highly anticipated in political circles and, according to people familiar with the matter, the BJP high command had even asked its two ministers in the state cabinet to resign as soon as Naidu calls it quits.

andhra pradesh Updated: Mar 07, 2018 19:30 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Andhra Pradesh,Chandrababu Naidu,State assembly
Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu accused the Modi government of betraying the people’s trust.(HT Photo)

Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu refrained from announcing a parting of ways with the NDA in the state assembly on Wednesday, despite several indications of such a move in view of his party’s growing acrimony with the Union government.

Although Telugu Desam Party (TDP) members had indicated that the party chief would make a statement to this effect during his response to the discussion on the motion of thanks to the governor’s address in the assembly, he confined himself to attacking the Narendra Modi government for denying his state its legitimate due as per the AP Reorganisation Act-2014.

The announcement was highly anticipated in political circles and, according to people familiar with the matter, the BJP high command had even asked its two ministers in the Andhra Pradesh cabinet – health minister Kamineni Srinivas and endowments minister P Manikyala Rao – to resign as soon as Naidu calls it quits. “We were ready to exit the state cabinet within minutes of being directed to do so by the party leadership in Delhi,” Srinivas said.

However, all Naidu did was further expound on the “betrayal of people’s trust” by the Union government. Lashing out at Modi for going back on promises made in the bifurcation act, he reiterated that the decision to enter into a pre-poll alliance with the BJP was made keeping the interests of the state in mind.

“During the 2014 election campaign, Modi had assured us that the BJP would grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh for 10 years if voted to power at the Centre – as opposed to the five years promised by the previous UPA government. He also accused the Congress of killing the mother (combined Andhra Pradesh) to give birth to a baby (Telangana). Why has he forgotten his promise after becoming the Prime Minister?” Naidu asked.

The chief minister pointed out that the state had accepted the offer of a special financial package in September 2016 after the Centre claimed that no other state was being accorded a status of the kind as per the 14th finance commission report. “However, in the last one-and-a-half years, we received virtually nothing under the package. On the other hand, the Centre has extended certain benefits – including reimbursement of CGST/IGST and 90% grant for externally aided projects extending over a 10-year period – to already existing special category states. We are now seeking the same benefits for Andhra Pradesh, which suffered heavily due to the bifurcation,” he said.

Naidu recalled how he visited Delhi as many as 29 times in almost four years to seek justice for the state. “I have exercised immense restraint in the interests of the state. But there is a limit to everything,” he said.

The chief minister also slammed state BJP leaders for launching a counter-attack on his government instead of taking up the issue with the Centre. “You cannot escape responsibility by attacking us. The 130-year-old Congress was completely routed in Andhra Pradesh for hurting the people’s sentiments. If you also hurt our sentiments by denying us the special category status, you will meet the same fate,” he warned.

Naidu also questioned the Centre’s motive behind seeking accounts for the Rs 12,500-crore financial aid given to the state in the last three years. “There is no need to give accounts for the compensation given to offset revenue deficit. For all the other schemes and projects, including the Amaravati capital works, we submitted the utilisation certificates,” he said.

First Published: Mar 07, 2018 19:14 IST