Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu addresses a press conference in Amravati, Andhra Pradesh. Photograph:( ANI )
The TDP on Wednesday night decided to pull out of the NDA government at the Centre and asked two of its ministers in the Modi government to tender their resignation but kept the door for ties with the BJP ajar.
The TDP took the painful decision in the interest of the state as it was left with no other option, party chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said at an emergency press briefing.
It's a crucial time.— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) March 7, 2018
We have to stand, we have to fight, we have to get it done.
The two ministers in the Modi government are Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Minister of State for Science and Technology Y S Chowdary.
In a tit-for-tat action, the two BJP ministers in the Naidu government--K Srinivasa Rao and T Manikyala Rao--too announced their decision to quit.
I tried reaching out to the Prime Minister to inform him about our decision. But sadly, he was unavailable.— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) March 7, 2018
"When the intended purpose (of joining the Union Cabinet) has not been served, there is no point in continuing. For me the sole agenda is to safeguard the interests of the state, he said.
The TDP has 16 MPs in the Lok Sabha.
Naidu's announcement came barely hours after Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told a press conference in New Delhi this evening that funds equivalent to what a special category state receives would be extended to Andhra Pradesh, but drew a line saying politics cannot increase the quantum of money.
We have now come out of the NDA. Party-to-party (TDP-BJP ties) issue will be decided later, he added, hinting that their alliance may continue in the future.
I am not angry with anyone. This decision has been taken only to benefit the people of Andhra Pradesh.— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) March 7, 2018
Jaitley said giving special category status, as demanded by Naidu, to any state apart from those in the North-East and three hill provinces were not constitutionally possible after the implementation of the 14th Finance Commission recommendations.
For special category status category states, the Centre meets 90 per cent of the funds required in a centrally sponsored scheme as against 60 per cent in case of normal category states. The remaining funds are provided by the state governments.
The Centre has been taking one sided decisions and our patience has run out now. When the purpose of joining the union cabinet hasn’t been fulfilled, it’s best to resign now.— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) March 7, 2018
Naidu said Jaitley's announcement was the "last straw" for the TDP. Naidu had repeatedly insisted on special category state status for Andhra Pradesh following mounting pressure from the opposition.
Jaitley's statement was nothing but insulting us, he maintained.
''I made every effort to get our issues resolved by the Centre in the last four years. I told them about the people's sentiment and tried to convince them in every manner but to no avail, he said.
We’ve waited enough. We’ve believed in false promises enough. Our ministers are resigning from the Union Cabinet. We will do whatever it takes to fulfill the aspirations of the people of Andhra Pradesh.— Lokesh Nara (@naralokesh) March 7, 2018
They (Centre) are with a predetermination and there appears to be no way they will help us. Under such inevitable circumstances, we have decided to come out of the NDA, Naidu said, after a three-hour teleconference with party MPs and state ministers following Jaitley's assertions.
He said the TDP joined the NDA government only to protect the state's interests following its bifurcation but claimed the Centre was taking unilateral decisions without thinking about the solutions to the state's problems.
The chief minister said he tried to speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the phone as a courtesy to inform him about the decision to pull out of the NDA government. It is my responsibility as a coalition partner to inform the prime minister about our party decision. My OSD spoke to his OSD but the prime minister did not come online, he said.
Naidu hoped the Centre would at least now respect the sentiments of people of Andhra Pradesh.