Political alliances

Andhra Pradesh: BJP members resign from state Cabinet

Ties between the Bharatiya Janata Party and Telugu Desam Party have been strained over the lack of allocation of funds to the state in the Union Budget.

The two Bharatiya Janata Party members in the Andhra Pradesh Cabinet, Kamineni Srinivas and Pydikondala Manikyala Rao, resigned on Thursday.

Member of Legislative Council PVN Madhav said the Bharatiya Janata Party will inform the people of Andhra Pradesh about everything that the Centre has done for the state. “Since independence till date, no state has received as many favours as Andhra Pradesh,” Madhav told ANI.

The move comes after Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday said the Telugu Desam Party has asked its legislators to resign from the Union Cabinet. The Bharatiya Janata Party has failed to reach out to the TDP on the special category status issue, the chief minister said, adding that the party will make a decision about the alliance soon.

Union minister YS Chowdary on Thursday told ANI, “It is not a good move but unfortunately due to unavoidable circumstances, we are stepping down as ministers.” TDP ministers Chowdary and Ashok Gajapathi Raju are expected to give statements in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha respectively later on Thursday.

Union minister Ramdas Athawale appealed to Chandrababu Naidu to reconsider the decision. “For [the] development of people of Andhra Pradesh, they [TDP] should stay with NDA,” he said. “Whenever you seek time from PM Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, they meet. If all states demand special status it would become very difficult for the government.”

Meanwhile, Telugu Desam Party members continued their protests for special status to Andhra Pradesh in Parliament on Thursday.

Congress leaders Renuka Chowdhury, however, said there was no crisis between the two parties. “This is like match fixing,” Chowdhury said. “They [TDP] are still pretending to withdraw [from the NDA]. What would happen if 2 ministers resign? If you are serious, do it seriously.” Her party chief Rahul Gandhi had earlier promised to grant Andhra Pradesh special status if the Congress was voted to power in the 2019 General Elections.

The Shiv Sena, meanwhile, said this break-up of ties between the BJP and TDP was expected. “Other parties have walked out of NDA too. Allies no longer have good relations with BJP,” Sena leader Sanjay Raut said. “Gradually their grudges will spill out and eventually they’ll walk out of alliance.”

The Shiv Sena is in alliance with the BJP in Maharashtra as well as the Centre. Another Sena leader, Manisha Kayande, echoed Raut’s statement. “Former NDA leaders had kept the alliance together. Now it’s overconfident. 2019 will be challenging for BJP,” she told ANI.

Earlier on Wednesday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Centre could not give Andhra Pradesh special category status as the provision no longer exists. The Centre is, however, committed to give the state funds equivalent to what it would have got with the special category status, Jaitley said.

“We laid out our demands to the Centre,” Naidu said in response. “Our requests fell on deaf ears. We are deeply hurt by Jaitley’s statement on the special category status.” The chief minister said Andhra Pradesh has incurred major losses as a state. “We never asked for bifurcation,” Naidu said while commenting on the state’s split for the creation of Telangana.

On Tuesday, Telugu Desam Party legislators voted in favour of ending the party’s alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party for refusing to financially help Andhra Pradesh. Ties between the two parties have become increasingly strained over the lack of allocation of funds to the state in the Union Budget.

TDP legislators demanding special status for the state have disrupted proceedings in Parliament for the last two days. On Tuesday, the TDP and the YSR Congress held a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.

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