Is Chandrababu Naidu losing patience with Centre?

Hyderabad, Jan 21: With simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh assembly due next year, Chief Minister and TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu appear to be growing impatient with the Centre over the delay in fulfilling the commitments made in state Reorganisation Act.

Amid signs of strain in the ties with BJP, Naidu has virtually threatened to move the Supreme Court to force the Centre to honour its commitments made at the time of bifurcation of the state.

The TDP chief’s threat came a week after he called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to submit to him a memorandum, listing out all the major demands. This meeting itself took place after more than a year, another indication that the relations between the two allies are going through a rough patch.

With the elections fast approaching, Naidu’s patience with the Centre is growing thin and he wants Modi to do something immediately to help the state.

From 2014 when the TDP came to power in the state and Modi formed the government at the Centre, Naidu had been demanding that the Centre do the handholding and provide level playing field to the state.

“This is must to undo the injustice done to the state by then rulers (UPA) by dividing the state in an unscientific manner,” reiterated Naidu.

“We are not asking for any extra favours. We are demanding what is due to us under Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act. We want the Centre to do the handholding and provide level playing field till the state achieves parity with others. If required, we will go to the Supreme Court on one or two issues,” he said at a conference of district collectors and other officials on Friday.

Naidu said he would wait for the Centre’s announcement on his demands but by issuing a veiled threat of legal fight he apparently made it clear that the wait will not be indefinite.

The TDP chief is under tremendous pressure to deliver in the crucial year before the elections. Political observers say Naidu is fully aware that if the current situation continues it would be difficult to retain the power.

Adding to Naidu’s problems, opposition YSR Congress Party is leaving no stone unturned to take advantage of the situation. YSRCP chief Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy is already on a state-wide padyatra to target Naidu for what he calls TDP’s unfulfilled poll promises.

What has made Naidu’s position already weak is the fact that he accepted Special Assistance measure announced by the Centre in lieu of the special category status as envisaged in Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act. He was already under attack from opposition for compromising with the Centre over the issue.

Naidu had then defended himself saying that the state will get the same monetary benefit which it would have received with special category status.

The state has to receive about Rs.20,000 crore from Centre in the form of Externally Aided Projects (EAPs) under the special assistance measure  over next five years ending 2019-20. Nearly a year after this announcement, the state is yet to get funds. Naidu has urged Modi to provide the funding assistance as central grant from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) instead of loans through external funding agencies as the projects under EAP will consume a lot of time for grounding and completing.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitely had also announced that the Centre will bear entire expenditure of Polavaram project. Naidu wanted the Centre to immediately sanction Rs 58,000 crore required for the project. He demanded immediate release of Rs.3,000 crore already spent by the state.

In addition to these, the TDP chief wanted Modi to ensure that sufficient funds were allocated in the central budget for development of the new state capital Amaravati.

He also urged  Modi to take urgent steps to increase the number of seats in the state Assembly from 175 to 225 as committed in the Reorganisation Act.

Speaking a day after Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao stated that Andhra Pradesh is no comparison for Telangana, Naidu admitted that among southern states Andhra has the lowest growth. He, however, said this was not the fault of people but of the rulers who split the state without doing ‘equal justice’.

Naidu said during last three and half years the state tried to improve things but admitted that it is yet to recover. “Unless the Centre undo the injustice done to five crore people, the state can’t recover,” he said.

He was also upset over KCR’s allegation that Hyderabad was destroyed by Andhra rulers and reminded him what was Hyderabad before 1995 when he became the chief minister of united Andhra Pradesh. “I developed Hyderabad,” claimed Naidu.

A fresh round of war of words erupted between the rivals when it appeared that the two Telugu states were trying to put behind all the bitterness of the past and work together for development and prosperity of their respective people.

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