NEW DELHI: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and Telangana counterpart K Chandrasekhar Rao have decided to skip the first meeting of the National Committee for Commemoration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Telugu Desam Party sources said Naidu’s decision followed the Centre’s refusal to give special category status to Andhra Pradesh. “He will not attend Wednesday’s meeting after the Centre’s betrayal despite promising special status to Andhra,” a source said.
Telangana Rashtra Samiti sources said Rao was scheduled to meet Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav in Hyderabad on Wednesday for talks on cobbling together an alternative front for the 2019 general elections.
“He had a prior appointment with Akhilesh Yadav in Hyderabad and can’t attend the Delhi meeting,” a TRS leader said. Rao recently met some leaders of regional parties, including DMK’s M K Stalin. Earlier, he held talks with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik, both of whom are in Delhi for the meeting.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s presence has been ruled out as he is busy campaigning for the May 12 Assembly elections. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is unlikely to attend as there is a CPI(M) state committee meeting scheduled in Kerala.
Wednesday’s meeting will be held in Rashtrapati Bhawan and presided over by President Ram Nath Kovind. The Prime Minister-headed committee has 114 members, including former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh, H D Deve Gowda and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, the Chief Justice of India, the Lok Sabha Speaker, Union cabinet ministers, Opposition leaders, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, Chief Ministers, RSS leaders and Gandhians.
The committee is expected to approve policies and plans, including preparatory activities, for the year-long commemoration of Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary from October 2, 2019 to October 2, 2020.
The budget has earmarked `150 crore for the celebrations. The recommendations of the committee will be considered by the Union cabinet.