AP: A PIECE OF A ‘SPE­CIAL’ PROTEST

India Today - - STATES - By Amar­nath K. Menon

Naidu has com­pe­ti­tion play­ing first de­fender of state in­ter­ests

Chief Min­is­ter N. Chan­drababu Naidu is pre­par­ing for a long haul on his de­mand for a spe­cial cat­e­gory sta­tus (SCS) for his state. Hav­ing parted ways with the Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance, he is now press­ing for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of all as­sur­ances made dur­ing the en­act­ment of the Andhra Pradesh Re­or­gan­i­sa­tion Act in 2014.

While Y.S. Ja­gan­mo­han Reddy’s Yu­va­jana Shramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP), ac­tor Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party (JSP) and the BJP re­fused to at­tend the all-party meet he con­vened on April 7, Naidu roped in vol­un­tary groups, em­ployee unions and stu­dent bod­ies. He plans a stag­gered ag­i­ta­tion to keep the SCS is­sue alive till the state elec­tions in May 2019.

Naidu be­lieves a de­fi­ant stand can win his Tel­ugu De­sam Party (TDP) a sec­ond term. Which may be why he keeps re­peat­ing that Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and the BJP have be­trayed the people of Andhra Pradesh. “The Cen­tre’s stand is to­tally un­demo­cratic. They (Delhi Po­lice) were in­hu­man, not even car­ing about our aged MPs,” Naidu said on the man­ner in which TDP MPs were pre­vented from demon­strat­ing at the PM’s res­i­dence on April 8.

The YSRCP, mean­while, is try­ing to project it­self as an even more ag­gres­sive cam­paigner for the is­sue. “The Cen­tre is not pay­ing heed due to the dis­unity among MPs,” says Y.S. Vi­jayamma, hon­orary YSRCP pres­i­dent and party chief Reddy’s mother. With its MPs hav­ing re­signed in protest at the end of the re­cent bud­get ses­sion, the YSRCP is now point­ing a fin­ger at the TDP’s re­luc­tance to fol­low suit.

The BJP counter to Naidu’s “be­trayal” has been to dub him a “cor­rupt de­stroyer”. They point to the huge in­vest­ment to build cap­i­tal Am­ra­vati and ir­ri­ga­tion as­sets. “Most con­tracts were awarded to people close to the TDP,” al­leges BJP leg­is­la­ture party chief Vishnu Kumar Raju. Naidu, mean­while, claims the BJP and YSRCP are in ca­hoots. He has also alerted his min­is­ters to a pos­si­ble “witch­hunt by Delhi” for quit­ting the NDA. It’s a de­ter­mined cam­paign, but can it win Naidu the elec­tions?

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