VIJAYAWADA: Walking a tightrope, chief minister Chandrababu Naidu continued to bring pressure on the Centre on the issue of special category status for Andhra Pradesh and lashed out at the Congress and YSR Congress for trying to vitiating relations between the state and New Delhi.
Responding to the Congress broadside against him that he had a secret pact with the BJP not to insist too much on special status, Naidu said at a public meeting in Dharmavaram in Anantapur district that would not give up benefits rightly due to the state.
"I will not settle for anything less than special category status and other benefits promised to the state in the AP Reorganisation Act. It is the responsibility of the BJP to come to the rescue of Andhra Pradesh," he said.
Naidu also underscored the point that it was he who opposed any irrational division of the erstwhile state. Now having done the deed itself, the Congress was shedding crocodile tears over the losses caused to the people of the state.
Having said that, it did come as an embarrassment to Naidu that Union minister of state Sujana Chowdary, a TDP MP, clapped in celebration of the victory of the BJP in referring a private member's bill on special category status to the Lok Sabha speaker to decide whether or not it is a money bill.
Naidu had snubbed Chowdhary yesterday, saying that the minister seemed to have been confused on how to react to the developments in the upper house. "He may have been confused. He should not have done that," he had said but the damage was done, giving indication that the TDP was thick with the BJP on the special category charade.
TDP leaders say Naidu's mission to the Prime Minister in Delhi has worked to the advantage of the party in the face of a flanking maneouvre by Congress member K V P Ramachandra Rao who moved that private member's bill. The pressure, in sum, is now on the Centre rather than the Naidu government, TDP leaders said.
According to one MP, the BJP is now taking a hard look at the whole special category issue. However, it is not clear as to how Narendra Modi will oblige Andhra Pradesh, ignoring similar claims by other states.