Tirupati, May 27 (IANS) The murmurs are growing louder with every passing day in Andhra Pradesh. The demand is clear: the state must be accorded ‘special category’ status by the Centre. And pressure is mounting on the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leadership to extract that status from the Narendra Modi government.
As the three-day annual convention of the TDP began here amid much fanfare, party supporters told IANS it is high time that the Centre be told to accord the ‘special status’. In case that doesn’t materialise, then the TDP should pull out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the supporters said.
E. Sujata, a district-level TDP leader from Visakhapatnam, told IANS: “It is high time we get the special status as was promised during the division of the state. We are with TDP supremo Chandrababu Naidu and supported his decision to join the NDA in 2014. But the BJP-led NDA government should now deliver on that promise.”
A similar view was echoed by Laximinarayan Naidu of Tirupati. “We want the NDA government to deliver quickly on the promise of railway zonal headquarters at Visakhapatnam,” he told IANS.
Laximinarayan — who was earlier a supporter of the YSR Congress of Jaganmohan Reddy — said that he now believes that “only Chandrababu Naidu can ensure the state’s progress” because he is “an experienced CEO”. And that’s the reason, Laximinarayan said, he joined the TDP.
However, the supporters also say that Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has his limitations and it is for the central government to do the needful.
It may be recalled here that on May 17 the chief minister had presented a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking to revive the demand for ‘special category’ status and other central assistance.
But in recent times there have been confrontations between the TDP and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cadres at the district level over a range of issues. Notable among them is the release of funds to Andhra Pradesh.
However, the BJP state unit has claimed that Rs.1950 crore has been given as a special central assistance as per the recommendations of NITI Aayog.
The claim is disputed by the local TDP leaders who also say that the party’s support base is swelling as YSR Congress activists are switching sides.
Meanwhile, at the annual convention — the Mahanadu — supporters remained ecstatic, buoyed by the hope that the state would move ahead under the leadership of Chandrababu.
On Friday the event began with the unfurling of the party flag at the sprawling Nehru Municipal High School ground here.
Ahead of his speech, chief minister Naidu garlanded the statue of N.T. Rama Rao, the party’s founder, whose birth anniversary coincided with the Mahanadu.
“Whatever may be the hardship, we have to rededicate ourselves for the welfare of the people who with a lot of hope gave power to us,” Naidu said in his speech. “Development and people’s welfare are the two eyes of our government,” the chief minister said, adding that he’s the “first servant of the people”.
In his speech, the chief minister also recalled the sacrifices made by the workers and leaders for the growth of the party.
Indeed, the Mahanadu is a celebration of the party cadres.
So what’s the agenda of this mega event?
TDP sources told IANS that at the Mahanadu party leaders would review implementation of the welfare schemes in Andhra Pradesh.
The party would also adopt 28 resolutions, of which eight are to be on Telangana and the perceived “failure” of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government there.
The issue of farmers’ suicide will come up for deliberation, besides ways to empower local bodies and creation of ‘smart’ villages.
(Nirendra Dev can be contacted at [email protected])