Assurances by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Parliament on Thursday regarding the demands of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) for Andhra Pradesh have failed to cut any ice with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s alliance partner. The Centre is looking at all issues concerning Andhra Pradesh and a decision on a special financial package and revenue deficit will be announced in the next couple of days, Jaitley said in the House yesterday even as protesting TDP members stood close to him, prompting Union minister Uma Bharti to stand guard.
Here are the top developments so far:
1. Jaitley’s promises have failed to cut any ice with AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. As per reports, Jaitley’s statement in the House was read out to Naidu by his MPs during a teleconference on Thursday night and the party MPs impressed upon him that the Centre was deliberately ignoring their demands. Jaitley’s statement in the House had nothing new, said the MPs. A miffed Naidu is expected to hold a fresh round of discussions with party leaders on Friday where one could see the TDP take a final call on continuing with the alliance.
2. The Centre’s response to protests by TDP members in parliament has also miffed Naidu. The BJP has refused to yield to the TDP’s attempts to corner it. Thursday’s statement by Jaitley in parliament also had nothing new, TDP MPs said.
3. Acting on the instructions of Chandrababu Naidu, TDP MPs continued their protest against the Centre on the last day of the first leg of the Budget Session of parliament as well. TDP wants the Centre to accord a special package for Andhra Pradesh.
4. The TDP has been at loggerheads with the BJP since the presentation of the Union Budget on February 1. The TDP said the allocations to the state amounted to the Centre’s neglect towards the interests of the state. Chandrababu Naidu has been demanding the release of promised funds for the state at the time of its bifurcation.
5. Among key projects that the Andhra Pradesh government is citing as part of its demands for higher allocation is the Polavaram project. According to reports, the Centre has sanctioned Rs 417.44 crore as grant-in-aid under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana (PMKSY) for the execution of the Polavaram irrigation project.
6. The Polavaram project has been one of the key developmental promises by Naidu who has a considerable amount of political stake in the Polavaram project.
7. The rift between the TDP and Centre did not emanate from the Budget, but months before when the Centre stalled Naidu’s bid to replace the main contractor, contending that the work was not being carried out in the desired manner. The attempts were, however, turned down by the Centre.
8. Under the AP Reorganisation Act-2014, Polavaram has been declared as a ‘national project’ but the responsibility of its execution rests with the state government. Naidu has made Polavaram the cornerstone of his development campaign and has claimed on many occasions that it was he who managed to breathe life into the project which had been stuck for many years.
9. Meanwhile, TDP rivals YSR Congress Party and Left parties have also joined the chorus seeking special assistance to Andhra Pradesh. On Thursday, Left parties called a statewide bandh in protest against the Budget allocations for Andhra and accused the Centre of overlooking its demands.
10. Polls are due in the state in 2019 and there is immense pressure on Chandrababu Naidu and the TDP to deliver upon his promises of development. With the fallout appearing imminent, Naidu will have to brave the opposition’s onslaught for failing to get the Centre to act despite being in power in alliance with them.