Political alliances

Telugu Desam Party is not breaking alliance with NDA, says minister who resigned from Union Cabinet

YS Chowdary, along with Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, has handed in his resignation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Telugu Desam Party leader YS Chowdary, who resigned from the Union Cabinet on Thursday, ruled out the possibility of his outfit breaking away from the National Democratic Alliance, despite their differences on granting Andhra Pradesh special category status, PTI reported.

Chowdary, who was the minister of state for science and technology and earth sciences, and his TDP colleague Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju resigned from their positions in the Union Cabinet on Thursday. They met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and handed in their resignations on Thursday evening.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday announced that Telugu Desam Party leaders would resign from the Union Cabinet hours after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the state could only get a “special package”, not special category status.

Chowdary on Thursday compared the decision to an unfortunate divorce and said the two TDP leaders had to resign from their Cabinet positions because of “unavoidable circumstances”. He clarified that the party will continue to be part of the NDA, but no leader will take up any ministerial position at the Centre.

“We are stepping down as ministers, but our president [Chandrababu Naidu] has said we will continue to be part of the NDA,” he told reporters. “When they are in responsible positions, they will have to balance such things and during the process of balancing, they will have to face such situations.”

Ashok Gajapathi Raju said Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated unscientifically. “Those who did it say this even today, and it needs corrective action,” he said. “That is what we are requesting now.”

With 16 MPs in the Lok Sabha, the Telugu Desam Party is the NDA’s third-largest constituent in the Lower House and its only southern ally.

The TDP’s decision 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.

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