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Telugu pride comes first: Chandrababu Naidu

A.K. Sabharwal
In a firm move to safeguard the interest of the State seeking Special Category Status (SCS) as promised at the time of bifurcation, TDP supremo and Chief Minister Mr. N. Chandrababu Naidu has withdrawn two TDP Ministers from the Central Cabinet. However TDP continues  to be part of the NDA fold.
An important ally in the NDA, Mr. Naidu has been backing the Central Government on several issues including demonetisation and GST. Notwithstanding TDP’s full support, the Modi government ‘s support to Andhra  Pradesh is far from satisfactory.
Mr. Naidu’s several visits to Delhi and appeals for sufficient Central aid to the residual State with its crippled economy have borne no fruit. Against this background, Mr. Naidu has been left with no option but to withdraw Ministers from Cabinet.
A brief recall of Telugu Desam’s emergence makes it clear how important Telugus’ self-respect and pride are for its supremo, Mr. N. Chandrababu Naidu. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), one of the key alliance partners of the NDA government, was founded in 1982 as an alternative to the Congress hegemony. The late N.T. Rama Rao, the TDP’s founder, tapped into a rich vein of bubbling subterranean resentment against the Grand Old Party, and positioned himself and his party as the valiant Telugu warriors battling the “arrogant forces” in New Delhi. The rest, as they say, is history. Within months of floating the TDP, NTR stormed to power in 1983, thus forming the first non-Congress government in united Andhra Pradesh.
Cut to 2018, and history appears to be repeating itself with Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who became president of the TDP in 1995, taking on the mantle of the Telugu warrior and joining the battle against those who have deprived Andhra Pradesh of the Special Category Status, as promised in the AP Reorganisation Act of 2014.
Mr. Naidu was right in asking the two TDP ministers to tender their resignations from the Union Cabinet last fortnight. He walked the talk by clearly delineating the TDP from the perfidy of the NDA government.
At the same time, being the astute politician that he is, Mr. Naidu has not severed his relations with the NDA, apparently hoping that better sense will prevail in New Delhi, and the Union government will accede to the Special Category Status. Thus, he has kept his channel of communication open with New Delhi. One cannot fault him for this approach. As Yogi Berra, the famous American baseballer and coach, once said: “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
It is concerning to see the lacklustre approach taken by the BJP government to this significant and sentimental issue. It reflects the Central Government’s imprudent and go-it -alone attitude whilst being least concerned about the demands and sentiments of the people of Andhra Pradesh.
Much of the BJP’s position hides behind the argument that the 14th Finance Commission is not in favour of the Special Category Status and that it cannot go against the Commission. They have however conveniently forgotten that the Special Category Status was announced as an Act of Parliament and not on a radio airing on Sunday.
Mr Naidu has made every effort in apprising the BJP government of this significant issue and has made 29 trips to Delhi in regard to this crucial matter.  As per the State Government, there are 19 issues pending in the AP Reorganization Act which the Central Government is yet to act on. On one hand, you have a world renowned workaholic CM who is leaving no stone unturned in getting a new State started by building a new capital and laying the groundwork for world class infrastructure by inviting and attracting investors from around the world.
One might recollect that this State was formed on a budget deficit of Rs 16000 crores. The least the centre could have done was to aggrandize the CM’s efforts of developing the State by just implementing the promises made earlier. This could have provided a much needed impetus for this sunrise state of Andhra Pradesh.
Accordingly, there would have been two options before Mr Naidu; first to stay aligned with the Central Government’s non-committal approach and enjoy the confidence and benefits of staying with Mr Modi’s decision or to let go of his power at the centre and call a spade a spade.
There could not be a better time for Mr, Naidu to stand up for the people of Andhra and fight for their rights. He has achieved this with grace and poise and has avoided name-calling or the levelling of accusations against any specific individual.
From the industry standpoint, one would expect that this State which has literally had to start from scratch, could have been much better aided and facilitated by an able ally at the centre however alas only if politics could be set aside.
Political analysts feel that though Mr. Naidu’s decision to withdraw his Ministers from the Central Cabinet has baffled many, this shows that Mr. Naidu is unwilling to compromise on the people of Andhra Pradesh’s self-respect and pride which essentially formed the basis for the emergence of the Telugu Desam.
This might prove beneficial to the TDP government in the 2019 elections as it can go it alone in the elections instead of joining with the BJP as people are against Modi in the State. The TDP had also demanded an increase of Assembly seats which the Centre has declined. So, if the TDP goes it alone, it need not allot  20 to 30 seats to the BJP in the State and at the same time the anti Modi effect will deliver a gain to the TDP.
Though the TDP has withdrawn Ministers, it is still continuing with the Centre. Now, the ball is in the BJP’s court; either to allocate more funds for the development of Andhra  Pradesh or grant it Special Category Status . If the Central Government does not act even now, it will be difficult for the BJP to win elections in Andhra Pradesh.
If the Modi government allots more funds to the State or grants it Special Category Status , the credit goes to Chief Minister Naidu for putting pressure on the Centre at the right time.

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