Andhra special status row: Naidu orders 2 TDP ministers to quit Union Cabinet

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu addresses a press conference in Amravati, Andhra Pradesh. Photograph:( ANI )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 07, 2018, 04.47 PM (IST)

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday night directed TDP ministers Ashok Gajapathi Raju and YS Chowdary to resign as Union Ministers over the Andhra Pradesh "special status" row.

"This is the first step. We will go ahead with other actions later," Naidu said in Amravati. The alliance between the TDP and the BJP however still remains intact. 

The TDP has been asking the Centre for special status. Earlier on Wednesday, Jaitley said the Centre was willing to give Andhra the monetary equivalent of special status but not the status itself since the category no longer exists. The TDP in turn believes the promises made to Andhra when the state of Telangana was carved out of it (in June 2014) have not been kept. 

"We have been raising the matter since the day of Budget. But they (central government) did not respond," said Naidu.  

"We have shown patience for 4 years. I tried to convince the centre by all means," said Naidu. "As a courtesy and being a responsible senior politician, I tried reaching out to Prime Minister to inform about our decision. He was unavailable." 

"The centre is not in a mood to listen. I don't know what mistake I have done. Why are they speaking such things?" said Naidu, adding that "Arun Jaitley's statement was the last straw. They are apparently predetermined. They don't appear to help the state." 

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Earlier on Wednesay, Jaitley had said: "What is the implication of special status? The special status used to be originally granted to states in the Northeast because they have their own resources that were inadequate. One of the promises was that Andhra Pradesh should be given special status. Provision for revenue deficit in case of Andhra Pradesh as per Finance Commission already made. In most of the schemes of special status, 60% is funded by Centre and 40% by the state. Special category status means that you get a 90-10 advantage, not 60-40. There has to be to a basis to calculate financial deficit."

Jaitley was addressing the media. "Andhra Pradesh was unwilling and Telangana wanted the division. Andhra was suffering in terms of resources. Therefore some help had to be given to AP. So one of the promises was AP should be given special category status. At that time, special category state concept did exist. But, according to 14th Finance Commission, there is no special category status now to be given," Jaitley had said. 

"I know Andhra has suffered because of bifurcation. Whatever is monetary equivalent of special status will be given to Andhra by the Centre. Whatever is mentioned in the act, the Centre is willing to fullfill. We are willing to satisfy every condition. The only variation is that after Finance Commission report instead of formally calling it a special category state, we are calling it a special package, which gives same monetary benefits that a special category state gives you. Sentiment does not decide the quantum of funds. Centre has repeatedly said that we are ready to give it," Jaitley added. 

The TDP faces extreme pressure in the state ahead of assembly elections and the national election next year, with opposition parties accusing Naidu of failing Andhra Pradesh by not ensuring special status for it as a partner at the Centre. 

The Congress' Rahul Gandhi meanwhile has said the Congress would be willing to give the Andhra the special status it is asking for if it is elected to power in 2019.