In a jolt to the BJP, the TDP quit the Modi government with its two ministers - Ashok Gajapati Raju (Civil Aviation) and Y.S. Chowdhry (MoS Science and Technology) - tendering their resignation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who made a last-ditch attempt to stave off the development.
However, the two ministers said the party was still part of the ruling National Democratic Alliance and it was hopeful that the promises made to Andhra Pradesh at the time of its bifurcation like the grant of special category status to the residual state and other financial demands would be met.
“The party took a decision last night that we should resign. We have resigned now. It was a matter of courtesy that we met the Prime Minister and presented our resignation,” Raju and Chowdhry told the media after meeting Modi at his residence.
Their resignation came shortly after Modi spoke to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu over telephone and reportedly urged him to reconsider pulling out of the NDA government. But Naidu apparently told him of his compulsions.
In a related development, the BJP pulled out its two ministers from the Naidu government in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday morning.
The action by the TDP, which has 16 members in the Lok Sabha and six in Rajya Sabha, will have no impact on the stability of the Modi government which has sufficient numbers in Parliament but will be seen as a big political setback because TDP is the first pre-poll ally to pull out of the Centre in nearly four years.
“We are continuing as part of the NDA. The problems are well known and we are hopeful that the commitments made by the national parties at the time of bifurcation will be met. Everyone in Andhra Pradesh wants that the promises should be implemented. Solutions are being attempted. We are trying to get solutions. We hope solutions will come. We have resigned in a cordial atmosphere,” Chowdhry said.
Both ministers said they know that the clock cannot be put back on the bifurcation but there are sentiments and emotions in the state which are to be addressed.
Asked what was the Prime Minister’s response, they quoted him as saying it was unfortunate but he understood that it was a party decision. “I am with the state of Andhra Pradesh and for the people of Andhra Pradesh,” Modi told them.
Chowdhry said it was wrong for the media to expect that they went to negotiate with the Prime Minister. “It is for various departments of the Centre to work for fulfilling the demands of Andhra Pradesh.
“The major sentimental issue has not been addressed well in time. At least the special package should have been implemented by putting time-lines. People of Andhra Pradesh are very emotional. One national party has deceived us and the other has cheated us,” he said.
Asked about the deadline for the Centre to meet the TDP demands, he said, “16th Lok Sabha.”
He also said the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act should not have been passed amid the din in Parliament.
Chowdhry conceded that the Centre did meet some demands but Andhra Pradesh needed a lot of hand-holding because demands like special category status were major emotional and sentimental issues.
In his resignation letter, Raju expressed his gratitude for the cooperation extended to him as a member of council of ministers. Chowdhry, in his letter, said he had enjoyed working with Modi and appreciated the suppport given to him.
“However, with due respect to the prevailing public sentiment in my constituency as well as the circumstances that led to that situation, and in adherence to the decision taken by my party (TDP) president, I am hereby tendering my resignation as Union Minister of State for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences,” Chowdhry said.
YSR Congress chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy has said the party would support whoever promises Andhra Pradesh the Special Category Status (SCS).
“Whoever signs the Special Category Status file will get our support,” Reddy told the media in Prakasam district.
He said both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had cheated Andhra Pradesh by promising but not granting the SCS.
The BJP-led NDA government ruled out SCS to AP, citing 14th finance commission report not to grant SCS to any state.
Meanwhile, Congress President Rahul Gandhi has announced that his party would grant SCS to Andhra Pradesh if voted to power.
Reddy also challenged Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu to move a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
“Either you move the motion and we will support or we move it and you support”, he said.
As TDP quit the Modi government, the Congress said all was never well within the alliance and a “parochial autocratic alliance led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has little place for dissent and the present disintegration of NDA is a reflection of that”.
The party said TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has realised the futility of continuing in an alliance which only has disrespect and humiliation for the alliance partner.
“All was never well within the NDA. For a parochial autocratic alliance led by Modi, it could never accept divergence of opinions or plurality which is the essence of India’s foundational values.
“The splintering of NDA is only a reflection of that philosophy of and the Bharatiya Janata Party (which leads the National Democratic Alliance),” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.
He said BJP’s oldest ally Shiv Sena has already declared it will have no truck with the BJP under Modi.
“The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), a long-tested ally of BJP, dumped them a while ago. The Janata Dal-U dumped them and again remarried due to compulsions of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, which only he can tell, and is about to dump them again,” he added.
Surjewala said: “This talaq, marriage, and possible talaq, has to be explained by them.
“The alliance seeks to trample upon the rights of Andhra Pradesh and the solemn promise made to them at the time of division of the state of hand-holding and carrying the developmental process in the state forward with Centre’s help,” the Congress leader added.
“But drunk with power and overconfidence, the Modi government has little place for those who dissent either from within or from outside and the present disintegration of the NDA is a reflection of that,” he added. (IANS)