Friday, 09 March 2018 | PNS | New Delhi-
The TDP on Thursday pulled out its Ministers from the BJP Government at the Centre after a last-ditch effort by Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to persuade TDP supremo and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu to rethink on his demand for special category status to the State.
Within hours of Modi dialing up Naidu to discuss the stand-off, TDP Ministers Ashok Ganapathi Raju and YS Chowdhary submitted their resignation.
Talking to the media after meeting the PM and tendering the resignation, Chowdhary said he and his colleague Ashok Gajapathi Raju were stepping down as Ministers — a move that was necessitated by “unavoidable circumstances— but would continue to be part of the NDA”.
The development of the last two days, including resignation of BJP Ministers from the Andhra Pradesh Government on Thursday morning clearly showed that neither side was looking for a face-saving compromise. Under the circumstances, it could be a matter of time before the TDP finally walks out of the NDA as well.
What could worry the BJP is the fact that after the TDP, the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal(U) too has revived its demand for special category status to Bihar. While Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has not made any comment on the issue, senior leaders of his party have come out in support of Naidu and asked the Centre to meet their demand. A Bihar Minister has also gone on record saying that Nitish will soon meet the PM to discuss the old-pending demand for special category status to Bihar.
The resignations of the TDP Ministers came a day after Naidu indicated his party was considering a divorce with the BJP-led NDA. This was followed by the resignation of two BJP Ministers from the Andhra Cabinet on Thursday morning.
For weeks, the TDP has been protesting both inside and outside Parliament to press for its demand for special category status to Andhra. The crisis climaxed after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday rejected TDP’s demand saying the Centre was willing to accord a monitory equivalent to special status to the state.
Jaitley pointed out that the 14th Finance Commission did not provide for grant of special status to States other than North-East and hilly States. He asserted that the Centre would fulfil all commitment as mandated in the Andhra Pradesh Bifurcation Act and the Constitution.
TDP leaders maintained that the party studied the situation and decided that it would take one step at a time and the separation could be a gradual process.
Likening the decision to an unfortunate divorce, Union Minister of State for Science and Technology Chowdhary said he and Raju, Union Civil Aviation Minister, would continue to work as parliamentarians for Andhra Pradesh.
“We will be happy when marriages happen, not when divorces happen. It is not a good move, but unfortunately due to unavoidable circumstances we had to take this move. We are stepping down as Ministers, but our president has said we will be continuing as part of the NDA,” Chowdhary told reporters.
The beauty of democracy, he said, was to bring unanimity and make everyone happy and this was the BJP’s responsibility.
“When they are in responsible positions they will have to balance such things and during the process of balancing they will have to face such situations,” he said, adding that Raju and he would continue to exert pressure to achieve their demand.
“All Parliament members will work for this. We hope we will succeed in getting special status…,” he said.
The TDP has 16 MPs in the Lok Sabha and six Rajya Sabha members.
Asked about Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s offer to give special status to Andhra if the party came to power, he said it was a hypothetical situation.
According to TDP MP Konagalla Narayana, Naidu waited for four years and the decision to withdraw the party’s Ministers was an outcome of his losing patience.
“The chief felt that during a fight for special status, it is not right to have our members in their Cabinet. So he took this decision… Now if they don’t act, this agitation will be intensified,” Narayana said.
Another MP Naramalli Sivaprasad said the BJP had considered them smaller all these days but would now understand their strength.
Naidu had said on Wednesday that the TDP joined the NDA Government only to protect the interests of Andhra Pradesh following its bifurcation but claimed the Centre was taking unilateral decisions without thinking about solutions to the State’s problems.
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