TDP won’t quit NDA, but step up pressure on Centre over funds for Andhra
N Chandrababu Naidu had earlier accused BJP leaders of violating the coalition dharma by criticising the Andhra Pradesh government. His TDP is apparently unhappy with Union Budget allocations for the state.
The Telugu Desam Party will not pull out of the NDA for now but would raise in and outside Parliament the treatment meted out to Andhra Pradesh in the budget, senior party leader and Union minister YS Chowdary said on Sunday.
The decision was taken during a meeting the TDP’s parliamentary party held at the residence of TDP president and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu in Amaravati.
Chowdary said several issues pertaining to the state were pending with the Centre. “We shall try first to talk to the central government to see that they are resolved. If there is still no response from the Centre, our party president will take an appropriate decision (on continuing in the NDA). Till then, we shall wait and watch,” Chowdary said.
The BJP’s biggest southern ally is upset over “being ignored” in the Union Budget that was presented on February 1. The meeting was called to decide if the TDP, the NDA’s third largest constituent with 16 members in the Lok Sabha, should continue in the ruling coalition.
“The people of the state are seething with anger with the injustice done to the state in the central budget. We need to reflect the same in Parliament,” one of the MPs, who attended the meeting, quoted Naidu as saying.
Naidu is also learnt to have told party members to stage protests in Parliament, even if it led to their suspension, the MP said.
The chief minister would explore all options for getting what was legitimately due to the state as per the AP Reorganisation Act, Chowdary, who is the minister of state for science and technology in the Modi government, said after the three-hour meeting.
There was nothing was more important to the TDP than the interests of the state, he said. The party had been telling the Centre that the state had suffered due to unscientific bifurcation of the Andhra Pradesh.
“We expected that at least in the current budget, which is the last full-fledged budget before the next elections, justice would be done to the state. Unfortunately, there was no mention of several issues,” Chowdary said.
Parliament had in February 2014 passed the Andhra Pradesh reorganisation bill clearing the way for the new state of Telangana that was carved out of 10 northwestern districts of Andhra.
The party MPs would put up a strong fight in Parliament for liberal assistance to the state. If the Centre would fail to respond in the next two or three days, “we shall bring pressure on the Centre to achieve our due”, Chowdary said.
Some reports said that BJP president Amit Shah and his senior colleague and home minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Naidu, who protested strongly, saying the ill-treatment in the budget had turned into a matter of prestige for the people of the state.
Chowdary, however, said he was not aware of the BJP leaders talking to Naidu.
Special package in lieu of special category status, creation of a railway zone and completion of the Polavaram irrigation project are the key demands of the TDP.
Andhra Pradesh votes for the Lok Sabha and assembly elections simultaneously. The TDP and BJP together won 17 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats and 107 of the 175 assembly segments in 2014.
Naidu’s muscle-flexing comes within days of the BJP’s largest ally, the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, announcing to go solo in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.