Andhra Pradesh: Chandrababu Naidu’s ties with BJP said to have soured in the past two years
N. Chandrababu Naidu’s recent outburst against BJP on their alliance and later on no special category status to Andhra Pradesh in Budget 2018 has come as a surprise to many
Hyderabad: While Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s recent outburst against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led centre on their alliance and later on non-allocation of funds for Andhra Pradesh in the Union Budget 2018 came as a surprise to many, a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) insider said that relations between the two had been souring from the last two years itself.
With Naidu settling for the special assistance package instead of the special category status (SCS), Andhra Pradesh was expecting a lot more funding this year, especially for projects like the Polavaram irrigation project. The final nail in the coffin which made Naidu speak out publicly against the centre, said a senior TDP leader who did not want to be quoted, was this year’s budget in which even the upcoming capital of Amaravati did not find any allocation.
“Though it was not easy, our chief minister accepted the special assistance package which was announced by the centre in 2016. The centre should have given us Rs18,000 crore roughly in return or equivalent of what we would have got with the SCS,” said the TDP leader. He claimed that in spite of repeated attempts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not met Naidu since January 2017.
The Andhra Pradesh government was also expecting the centre to announce a new railway zone for Visakhapatnam and a new port at Dugarajapatnam in Nellore district (proposed by state in 2013 but later stalled due to technical reasons), among other things.
“We are not requesting but demanding what is our right. As per the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act 2014, there are still 19 items pending. By 2020 or 2022, Andhra Pradesh will be the only revenue deficit state in India. There has been grave injustice to Andhra Pradesh, which lost out as a lot of our resources in the joint (Andhra Pradesh) state were invested in Hyderabad,” said TDP MP Kesineni Srinivas.
Before Budget 2018 was announced, cracks surfaced between the TDP and BJP’s alliance when Naidu at a press conference said that his party will withdraw from the partnership if the BJP wanted to end it. His statement came after BJP leaders in Andhra Pradesh criticized the Andhra Pradesh government over a host of issues including non-completion of projects on time.
At a press conference on 11 February in New Delhi, BJP spokesperson G.V.L. Narasimha Rao and Andhra Pradesh president K. Hari Babu presented a 27-page note detailing Rs22,113 crore to be paid as revenue deficit, Rs1,000 crore for the new capital of Amaravati, full funding for the irrigation component of the Polavaram project, and a total investment of Rs1 trillion on infrastructure, Hindustan Times reported.
When asked about the ongoing discussions between the centre and Andhra Pradesh post the TDP’s protests, Srinivas said that they “are not going in the right way”. The MP stated that whatever Andhra Pradesh has to receive is its right as per the devolution theory (revenue deficit grant).
“It is not some merchant to merchant transaction that is due. The centre is bound to give states this money. Our chief minister has visited New Delhi 29 times and time and again we had been pressurizing the centre. We did not protest before this because we are in an alliance and cannot shout on the streets,” he told Mint.
Political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy said that the popular perception is that Andhra Pradesh will gain something out of the development with regard to last week’s announcement by G.V.L. Narasimha Rao. “The issue may be resolved in the second phase of parliament’s budget session, as some fund allocation will probably be done,” he said.
Reddy added that the TDP will not come out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) fold but that it wants to create a perception that it will do what is necessary for the rights of Andhra Pradesh.
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