Congress president Rahul Gandhi has jumped right into the ongoing political crisis between alliance partners Telugu Desam Party of Chandrababu Naidu and the Bharatiya Janata Party, pledging support to what he termed as the “just demands of the people of Andhra Pradesh”. In what could embarrass the BJP further, Rahul took to Twitter and said that the Congress stood in solidarity with the demands of Andhra Pradesh for special category status and speedy completion of the Polavaram project. “It’s time for all parties to unite on this issue and support this call for justice,” the Congress president wrote.
Rahul Gandhi’s comment comes at a time when the BJP is facing flak for its biggest alliance partner in the south for allegedly neglecting the demands of Andhra Pradesh. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and senior TDP leaders have even gone to the extent of threatening to walk out of the National Democratic Alliance if the party’s demands for a special package and higher allocations for the ambitious Polavaram project are not met.
The Congress Party supports the just demands of the people of Andhra Pradesh for special category status and speedy completion of the Polavaram project. It’s time for all parties to unite on this issue and support this call for justice.#INCStandsWithAndhra
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) February 9, 2018
On Thursday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley issued a statement on the floor of the parliament, stating that the Centre was looking into the demands of the TDP and that a decision on a special financial package and revenue deficit will be announced soon. The assurances of the FM could do little to assuage the TDP and Naidu, with the party continuing its protests in parliament over the Centre’s alleged apathy towards Andhra.
The TDP has been up in arms against the government demanding special assistance in line with the promise made for the state at the time of Andhra Pradesh’s bifurcation. The Polavaram project is also crucial to Naidu’s chances to return to power in the 2019 elections in the state. The Chief Minister has claimed on several occasions that the project, that had been stuck for several years, only managed to move ahead under his watch. By slamming the Centre for its alleged high-handedness, the TDP would hope to communicate to the electorate that it is fighting for the interests of the state.
Meanwhile, the Congress party’s stand on the issue also comes just a day after former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in a message to political parties, said that the Congress will be willing to work with like-minded parties to ensure the BJP’s defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Sonia has been at the forefront of seeking a larger alliance to counter the BJP on the national level and has appealed to political parties to get over their differences for a larger cause.