TDP to quit Narendra Modi Cabinet over special status for Andhra Pradesh, continues in NDA

The exit of the TDP from the Cabinet has been months in the making. 

TDP to quit Narendra Modi Cabinet over special status for Andhra Pradesh, continues in NDA
Naidu said he has visited New Delhi 29 times in the last four years trying to get the special status for Andhra Pradesh. (File picture)

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) on Wednesday night announced that it is pulling out of the Union Cabinet, over its demand for special status to the state, which would have given it access to more funds from the Centre. However, he stopped short of pulling out of the NDA.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu made the annoucnement in a press coference late on Wednesday night from his state's new capital, Amaravati. He said the TDP's two ministers in the NDA government -  Ashok Gajapathi Raju and YS Chowdary - would resign on Thursday morning.

 

 

He however said the TDP would continue to be part of the NDA for the time being. "They (ministers) will resign in the morning. What will happen after that, we will see to that later," he said.

"This is our right. The Centre is not fulfilling the promises it made. We have shown patience for four years. I tried to convince the Centre by all means," Naidu said. "The reason we joined the BJP as part of the Central government has not been served. That is the reason we are pulling out of the government," he said.

"The Centre has been taking one sided decisions and our patience has run out now. When the purpose of joining the union cabinet hasn’t been fulfilled, it’s best to resign now," he said in a tweet.

 

 

Naidu said he had reached out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inform him of the TDP's decision as a matter of courtesy, but the PM had been unavailable.

 

 

Naidu's announcement comes hours after Union Minister Arun Jaitley said the Centre is unable to fomally bestow special status on Andhra Pradesh. But, he said, the Centre would ensure that it would make available just as much funds as would have been available to the Andhra Pradesh government as it would have had access to with the special status. He acknowledged that Andhra Pradesh had suffered financially as a result of the bifurcation of the state into Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. He said the special category status does not exit under the 14th Finance Commission.

"One of the promises was, AP should be given special category status. At that time, special category state concept did exist. But, according to 14th Finance Commission, there is no special category status now to be given," Jaitley explained.

"I know Andhra has suffered because of bifurcation. Whatever is monetary equivalent of special status will be given to Andhra by the Centre. Whatever is mentioned in the act, the Centre is willing to fullfill. We are willing to satisfy every condition. The only variation is that after Finance Commission report instead of formally calling it a special category state, we are calling it a special package, which gives same monetary benefits that a special category state gives you. Sentiment does not decide the quantum of funds. Centre has repeatedly said that we are ready to give it," Jaitley added, in a clear bid to address the well-known pain points of the TDP. 

Naidu however continued to express his party's long-standing pain point in the debate over the bifurcation of the state. "We did not ask for our state to be split," said Naidu, explaining the rationale for his party's demand for special status.

The TDP's pull-out was not out of the blue. Frictions between the partners has been growing for a while now, and have increasingly come out in the open.

Naidu also targeted the Congress for its promises of special status for Andhra Pradesh, but failing to deliver on the promise before losing power in 2014. The attack came hours after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said his party would ensure special status for Andhra Pradesh if it comes to power after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

"The people of the state are disappointed with the Congress," Naidu said.

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