Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu was on a day-long strike in Delhi on Monday to demand special category status for his state, PTI reported. The “Dharma Porata Deeksha”, or protest for justice, started at the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan on Monday morning and went on till around 8.30 pm. He ended the fast with water offered by former Prime Minister Deve Gowda.
The Telugu Desam Party chief paid tributes at Raj Ghat before before proceeding to the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan.
“Andhra Pradesh can survive only if it is given a special status,” Naidu said at the venue of the strike. “We will protest against all injustice done to us. We will revive our demand for special status for Andhra Pradesh in the Parliament.”
Naidu alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not following “raj dharma” [duty of rulers] and denying the state special status. “[Former PM] Atal Bihari Vajpayee said ‘raj dharma’ was not followed in Gujarat [during the 2002 riots],” he said. “Now, ‘raj dharma’ is not being followed in the case of Andhra Pradesh. We have been denied what is rightfully ours.”
Warning the government of repercussions, Naidu said he wanted to remind the Centre of its promises made in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014. Naidu said that he was protesting in Delhi as the party was denied permission to stage a demonstration in Parliament premises. The TDP chief also warned the Centre against making “unwarranted” personal attacks against him and his people.
The Andhra Pradesh chief minister will also submit a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind on February 12, said an official statement. Party legislators and ministers also sat on the hunger strike with Naidu, with members of state employee associations, social and student organisations joining in.
Opposition leaders extend support
Several Opposition leaders met Naidu at the venue of his fast to express support. Congress President Rahul Gandhi accused Modi of not fulfilling promises, ANI reported. “Mr Modi tells a lie wherever he goes,” said Gandhi. “He has got no credibility left.”
Gandhi alleged Modi had stolen from the people of the state and given the money to businessman Anil Ambani, referring to the alleged corruption in the Rafale deal signed with France.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, Nationalist Congress Party’s Majeed Memon, Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien and Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav were among those who met Naidu to extend support to him.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will leave for Delhi on Tuesday to attend the protest. Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav also tweeted in support of Naidu.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also expressed support for Naidu and said the promise of special status to the state must be implemented without any further delay. “The demand for special status had the support of all parties when it was discussed in Parliament,” Singh added.
The Telugu Desam Party had quit the National Democratic Alliance, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, in March 2018 over the Centre’s refusal to grant Andhra Pradesh special status.
Naidu’s strike came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the state. At a public rally in Guntur on Sunday, Modi claimed that Naidu was only focused on his son’s rise and not the development of the state.
Protests had been organised in several parts of Andhra Pradesh on Saturday against Modi’s visit to Guntur. Workers of the ruling Telugu Desam Party, the Congress, Left parties, student groups and organisations that favour special category status for Andhra Pradesh organised demonstrations in 13 districts.