Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday backed Andhra Pradesh legislators who have been demanding a special financial package for the state, and urged the Centre to pay Andhra Pradesh its dues at once. Telugu Desam Party legislators demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh have disrupted proceeding in Parliament for the last two days.

Gandhi joined Telugu Desam Party and YSR Congress leaders protesting at Jantar Mantar in Delhi and said the “first thing” his party will do if voted to power in 2019 is give the state special status.

“We are for special category status for Andhra Pradesh,” Gandhi said at Jantar Mantar. “The first thing we will do when we come to power in 2019 is give the state special category status.” The Congress leader later tweeted that a united Opposition can force the Centre “to do justice to the people of Andhra [Pradesh]”.

The ties between the Chandra Babu Naidu-led TDP and the Bharatiya Janata Party have increasingly become strained over the allocation of funds to the state in the Union Budget. The first half of the Budget Session, which ended on February 9, was also marked by frequent adjournments after protests by leaders from the state.