AP: A PIECE OF A ‘SPECIAL’ PROTEST
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?