Prime Minister Narendra Modi phoned Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday, amid a row over the state’s demand for special category status. During the phone call, Naidu explained the reasons why members of his Telugu Desam Party had resigned from the Union Cabinet.
Two TDP leaders – Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Minister of State for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences YS Chowdary – met Modi at 6 pm on Thursday to hand over their resignations.
The decision of the Telugu Desam Party – the National Democratic Alliance’s only partner in the south – came after weeks of protests by legislators from Andhra Pradesh demanding special category status for their state. The Budget Session of the Parliament has been repeatedly adjourned over their demand. The lawmakers had also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government of not allocating enough funds for Andhra Pradesh in the Union Budget this year.
States with special category status are entitled to higher funds from the Centre than other states. Although Andhra Pradesh does not qualify for the additional funds, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had promised five years of special category status to Andhra Pradesh after its bifurcation. Although the BJP had said it would extend the special status to 10 years, this has yet to happen.
The chief minister of Andhra Pradesh said he had visited Delhi 29 times and also sent MPs and ministers to remind the central government about its promises, but to no avail. Naidu said he had also tried to contact Modi after TDP made the decision to have its ministers resign from the Union Cabinet, but was ignored.