Telugu Desam Party President and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday reiterated that the Centre should undo the injustice meted out to his state in the Union Budget 2018-19.
Ominously for the BJP, which leads the National Democratic Alliance government of which TDP is an important part, Naidu declared that he is ready to make "any sacrifice", while ruling out any compromise on the state's interests. With 15 MPs in the Lok Sabha, TDP is the second biggest partner in the BJP-led NDA government.
Naidu said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should fulfil all commitments made in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 and also the assurances given in Parliament at the time of bifurcation of the state. Naidu alleged that while the Congress did "injustice" to Andhra Pradesh by dividing the state in an unscientific manner, the BJP had not undone that injustice even after three-and-half years.
"The Prime Minister and the central Ministers should undo the injustice. They should ensure that our sentiments are not hurt. This is the issue of self-respect of five crore Telugu people," he told a public meeting at Narsaraopet in Guntur district.
This is the first time that Naidu publicly targeted the BJP and appealed to people to rally behind the state government. During his speech, Naidu repeatedly said he was demanding justice on behalf of five crore people of the state, who are angry. He warned that the state could again witness the chaotic situation seen before the bifurcation.
The TDP chief said during the last three-and-half years he visited Delhi 29 times to bring the injustices to the notice of the Centre and to demand that all commitments be fulfilled but justice was not done.
"When the last Budget also did injustice, there was no way we could have kept quiet," he said referring to the TDP protests in Parliament during the first leg of the Budget Session.
Naidu also asserted that the states too have sovereign powers. He took exception to the demand by some BJP leaders to furnish accounts (utilisation certificates) for the funds released by the Centre so far. “The Centre and states have their own sovereignty. The state is answerable to Assembly and the Centre to Parliament. It’s not correct to ask the state to furnish accounts,” he said.
He vowed to continue to put pressure on the Centre till it fulfils all commitments made in the Act and handholds the state till it comes on par with other southern states.
The TDP MPs have already announced that they would continue their protest when the Budget Session recommences from March 5.
Referring to statements by some BJP leaders that the Centre had extended all assistance, the Chief Minister said he was ready for a debate on the issue.
Naidu also asserted that the states too have sovereign powers. He took exception to the demand by some BJP leaders to furnish accounts (utilisation certificates) for the funds released by the Centre so far. "The Centre and states have their own sovereignty. The state is answerable to Assembly and the Centre to Parliament. It's not correct to ask the state to furnish accounts," he said.