HYDERABAD: Under pressure from his political adversaries, chief minister Chandrababu Naidu is scheduled to call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday and plead his state’s case for special category status or a special package for its backward areas.
The chief minister is taking his case upstairs after Union finance minister Arun Jaitley stopped just short of stating in the Rajya Sabha last week that special status for Andhra Pradesh is just not going to happen. It was after TDP MPs agitated for two days in Parliament that Jaitley telephoned Naidu and reportedly invited him to Delhi to discuss a ‘special package’, the contours of which have not been divulged.
Jaitely is understood to have made the overture after the Prime Minister nudged him to discuss a ‘package’ with Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Chandrababu Naidu.
Since the Prime Minister has given time to Chandrababu Naidu at 11 a.m. Friday, it is being assumed that something special, be it a package or status, is likely to be part of the conversation. The day before yesterday, Union minister Sujana Chowdary said in a stage whisper that he had information that the Prime Minister has asked for data on what Andhra Pradesh wants and what the Centre can give.
Chandrababu Naidu left for Delhi this afternoon, not only to call on the Prime Minister but also to invite the President, Vice-president, Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India to take part in the Krishna Pushkarams beginning August 12. But according to one MP, Chandrababu Naidu is not very gung-ho going into the meeting with Modi though he did decide to press his point.
The precendents do not augur well for this mission. A year ago, Naidu did submit a memorandum to Modi in which he sought a financial package totalling Rs 2.25 lakh crore.
Then Modi asked Niti Aayog officials in the presence of Jaitley to prepare a road map to help the state. There has been no development subsequently and help has come from the Centre in dribbles.