VIJAYAWADA: Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Friday reiterated his severe displeasure over the way Finance Minister Arun Jaitley ignored the State in the Union Budget and said a “political decision” would be taken on the “injustice” meted out to the State. In other words, he hinted at a possible break-up with the BJP without saying so in as many words.However, it appears such a decision might not be taken any time soon. The issue was discussed at length at the Cabinet meeting at the Interim Secretariat in Velagapudu in the evening. While expressing dissatisfaction, Naidu is learnt to have advised his Cabinet colleagues not to be hasty and speak out of turn against the saffron party.
But taking note of the “deep dissatisfaction” among the people over the unfulfilled promises made by the Centre, he promised a “fight” to ensure the State’s interests are protected. Naidu is miffed with the Modi Sarkar since he had met Jaitley and Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this month and urged them both to make budgetary allocations to the State as per the provisions of the AP Reorganisation Act-2014.The meagre funds released so far for the construction of the new capital city Amaravati, Polavaram irrigation project and to bridge the revenue deficit of Rs 16,000 crore besides unresolved issues arising out of the division of the State in 2014 have put the Naidu government on the backfoot in the face of Opposition onslaught.
Being part of the Central government, he is being targeted for his perceived inability to force the Centre to keep its word. TDP leaders fear that continued alliance with the BJP under the circumstances could prove counter-productive in an election year. Hence, the dilemma. Addressing such concerns, Naidu reportedly told his Cabinet colleagues that the party is in the Central government not for the sake of two ‘namesake’ portfolios but for the larger interests of the State. “It is regrettable that Southern States were not given as much priority as Northern States.
We will have to fight for our rightful share... The attitude of the Centre seems to be that Amaravati is neither a village nor a town.As for the metro rail, cities smaller than Visakhapatnam were given preference,” he was quoted as saying. After the two-hour long meeting, TDP state president and minister Kala Venkata Rao indicated that the party will try to pile pressure on the Centre during this budget session. Asked about possible break up with the BJP, he quipped, “This is not a tussle between a wife and a husband! We will have to discuss, take into consideration the deep dissatisfaction among the people and take a decision keeping the interests of the State in mind.” He made it amply clear that the party’s immediate response would be to take the battle to the Parliament and make this budget session count. The TD Parliamentary Party meeting scheduled for Sunday is likely to chalk out a strategy. The final call on the alliance could be taken later on after the budget session.
Earlier in the day, Naidu made pretty much the same comments at the TDP coordination committee meeting. He expressed dismay that the Centre is treating the State like any other State despite being aware that Andhra Pradesh needs handholding as it was left with meagre finances and not even a capital after the creation of Telangana. Interestingly, in an oblique reference to the Modi government, he observed, “Any party that fails to properly govern and disregards the sentiments and expectations of the people will be taught a lesson.” He cited the bypoll results in Rajasthan, where the BJP was defeated by the Congress, to drive home his point. Significantly, though Naidu advised his party leaders to exercise restraint, some of them continued to hit out at the BJP. MP TG Venkatesh “declared war”. “We are going to declare war. We have three options. One, to try and continue.
Two, our MPs resign and the third is to end the alliance. We will decide in the meeting with the Chief Minister on Sunday,” he said. Narasaraopet MP Rayapati Sambasiva Rao offered to resign. “All the leaders were asked to exercise restraint. A decision would be taken after the meeting with party MPs on Sunday. If the sentiments of Andhra people are not respected, BJP may have to face the same situation the Congress faced after state bifurcation in 2014,” he warned. State BJP leaders except endowments minsiter Manikyala Rao, meanwhile, remained silent. Rao told reporters that the Union Budget was very good for farmers and different sections of the society.