Chandrababu Naidu, On Ties With BJP, Says “Right Decision At Right Time

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HYDERABAD Mar 7 Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu today said his Telugu Desam Party  (TDP) will take the “right decision at the right time”, amid speculation that he could exit the BJP-led national alliance NDA and pull out his ministers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet over the state not being given central funding under “special status.” Sources close to Mr. Naidu told a TV Channel no decision has been taken so far on breaking up with the BJP and that discussions are on with the center on implementing promises of central help made to the state when it was bifurcated four years ago.
Talking to TDP lawmakers through teleconference this morning, Mr. Naidu lashed out at the center saying it was “insulting the sentiments” of the people of the state by not honoring the promises made in the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, and also in parliament when the state was bifurcated to carve out a separate Telangana.

The Chief Minister said there would be “no compromise” in protecting the state’s interests. Let us bear whatever difficulty, but we will take a right decision at the right time.” A survey among the TDP cadre showed that 95 percent favor ending the partnership with the BJP, struck just ahead of the 2014 national election.

The TDP has two ministers in the union cabinet YS Chowdary and Ashok Gajapati Raju and there has been speculation that they could resign as a first step towards a divorce.

TDP Lawmakers have continuously pressured the government ever since the union budget was presented, disrupting parliament by shouting slogans demanding that Andhra Pradesh is given central funding under a special status. Other parties have joined in. Apart from Andhra Pradesh’s chief opposition party the YSR Congress, lawmakers from the Congress and Trinamool Congress too protested in parliament on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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“We will give special category status to Andhra Pradesh”. It’s the first thing we will do after coming to power in 2019,” Congress president Rahul Gandhi told a group of party workers who protested at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar demanding special status for AP. Mr. Gandhi urged opposition parties to unite to “force the BJP government to do justice to the people of Andhra.” The TDP is among parties invited for dinner next week by Mr. Gandhi’s mother and predecessor Sonia Gandhi, seen as a fresh attempt to consolidate the opposition against the BJP ahead of the 2019 national election. “Sonai Gandhi’s dinner is not a priority,” said young TDP lawmaker Rammohan Naidu, stating that his party will not ally with the Congress, who it blames for the situation. The Congress was in power when the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh was approved. The state’s political parties say the bifurcation caused a huge revenue deficit for what was left of Andhra Pradesh.

The TDP has been deeply upset since Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Union Budget last month, complaining that it neglected Andhra Pradesh. The TDP pulled back from the brink of a break-up but warned that the Centre must make a big announcement for Andhra Pradesh before the ongoing Budget session ends. The Finance Minister has argued that Andhra Pradesh has already been given an advance of Rs. 12,500 crore without any tangible work being done like starting construction of a new capital. The government is wary of giving in to the TDP demand to declare Andhra Pradesh a special status category state as it could result in such demands being raised by other states.