TDP ministers to resign from Modi govt today
Hyderabad/New Delhi: Telugu Desam Party’s (TDP’s) ministers in the union cabinet—Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Y.S. Chowdary—will resign from their post on Thursday, said Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday night.
The decision came hours after finance minister Arun Jaitley said that the centre can’t offer special status to Andhra Pradesh, but would offer a special package with equivalent funding.
The TDP, however, has not exited the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) just yet as Naidu said “party-to-party issue (of ties with the BJP) will be decided later”.
“This is just the first step. I’m doing this in the interest of the state,” he told the media at a press conference at the Andhra Pradesh secretariat in Amaravati.
Naidu’s statements came amid speculations that the TDP was all set to break its alliance with the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) when cracks appeared in the partnership due to the TDP’s unhappiness with the allocations made to Andhra Pradesh in Union Budget 2018.
“I called the Prime Minister to inform about our decision but he did not come on the line. It appears that they do not want to help the state. (Union) finance minister Arun Jaitley’s statements were the last straw,” Naidu said. “The Centre has been taking one-sided decisions and our patience has run out now. When the purpose of joining the union cabinet hasn’t been fulfilled, it’s best to resign now,” Naidu tweeted.
It's a crucial time.— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) March 7, 2018
We have to stand, we have to fight, we have to get it done.
Earlier on Wednesday, Jaitley said political compulsions cannot lead to an increase in the quantum of money as the centre does not have free floating funds. “Every state in India has a right to same central funds in the same manner. I have been sympathetic to Andhra Pradesh because I know it suffered due to bifurcation,” he said.
Jaitley said after the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, the concept of special category status was abolished. “But I am ready to give monetary compensation equivalent to the special category state as given to north eastern states and the hilly states,” he said.
For the resource-poor northeastern states and three hilly states, the centre meets 90% of the funds required in a centrally sponsored scheme, as against 60% in case of other states. The remaining funds are brought by the state governments. According to Jaitley, for Andhra Pradesh, the centre committed to give 90% of the funds, equivalent to special category states, through other means like external agencies. The Union government, he said, was even willing to accept the state government’s suggestion of routing such funds through the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
At meetings with state government officials last month, the centre suggested creating a special purpose vehicle (SPV) where NABARD could give the money so as not to upset the fiscal deficit of the state, Jaitley said, adding the Andhra Pradesh government is yet to come back on the modalities of such transfer. On meeting the state’s revenue deficit, he said, the centre has already paid Rs4,000 crore and only Rs138 crore remains to be paid.
“There are no (educational) institutions here and we have financial deficit, yet the centre says that it won’t give us funds. It is our right to ask for the money. I am not angry with anyone,” Naidu said at his press meet.
It may also be recalled that the opposition YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) has said that its MPs will resign on 6 April if the centre fails to give special category status to Andhra Pradesh. TDP MPs also have been protesting against the “injustice” to Andhra Pradesh in parliament in the budget session, and the party had given the BJP time till 5 March to sort it out.
“Naidu is very smart; he will not take any decision so soon, and will decide only at the last minute. He will look for every opportunity to gain the most out of it and will try to create a situation which is very much in his favour. A decision will not come in haste,” said Hyderabad-based political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.