Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu launched into a tirade against the BJP-led central government, alleging Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not following 'raj dharma' by denying the state special status.
Naidu, who began a day-long fast at the Andhra Bhavan demanding that the Centre fulfil all promises made during AP's bifurcation in 2014, warned that Modi would be given a befitting answer if he made personal attacks against the people of his state.
"(Former PM) Atal Bihari Vajpayee said 'raj dharma' was not followed in Gujarat (during the 2002 riots). Now, 'raj dharma' is not being followed in the case of Andhra Pradesh. We have been denied what is rightfully ours," Naidu said.
He alleged the central government did grave injustice to Andhra and it would have "repercussions on national unity".
"On behalf of five crore people, I'm warning this government. I came here to remind you of the promises made in the AP Reorganisation Act," Naidu said.
"I am warning you. Don't make personal attacks against me and my people. It's unwarranted. I am just doing my duty as the head of my state. We are only demanding what we were promised," he said, adding if somebody "attacks our self respect, we will not tolerate it".
The TDP chief said the party was denied permission to stage a protest in Parliament premises.
"So, we came here".
Chandrababu Naidu is observing fast from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. on Monday and will submit a memorandum to the President on Tuesday.
A number of Opposition party leaders - including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal - are expected to extend their support to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief's fast at the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan.
All arrangements have been made for the event at AP Bhavan and accommodation is being provided for 509 TDP leaders, including ministers, MLAs and 6,500 others who are expected to participate in the protest.
Before beginning the fast, Naidu offered tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat and to B R Ambedkar at Andhra Pradesh Bhavan.
Naidu’s deeksha in Delhi came in for sharp criticism from Modi, who said the AP CM is going to pose for photographs in the national capital at the expense of taxpayers.
The State government, which is holding the deeksha on an official note to express resentment against the alleged indifferent attitude of Centre towards State, is reportedly spending around Rs 10 crore for the Delhi deeksha.
Naidu, on his birthday, staged his first Dharma Porata Deeksha seeking Special Category Status to the State in Vijayawada on April 20, 2018. Since then, he staged such deekshas 11 times at different places across the State. Naidu, through the deeksha, is not only raising the issue of SCS but also making a pitch against the Modi government’s intervention in the affairs of the State government and using Central investigating agencies such as IT, CBI, ED and others to target Opposition parties.
(With inputs from ENS)