N. Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, speaks during an interview in Delhi. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

TDP To Pull Out Of NDA Government, Keeps Door For Alliance With BJP Ajar

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The Telegu Desam Party tonight decided to pull out of the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre. The party asked two of its ministers in the Narendra Modi government to tender their resignation tomorrow even as it kept the door for ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party 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.

The two ministers in the Modi government are Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Minister of State for Science and Technology YS 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.

“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,” Naidu 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.

Also Read: Jaitley Says Open To Giving Funds, Not Special Status, To Andhra

“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.

Jaitley said giving special category status, as demanded by Naidu, to any state apart from those in the North-East and three hill provinces was not constitutionally possible after the implementation of the 14th Finance Commission recommendations.

Also Read: ‘Promise Of The Moon’ Behind Andhra’s Special Status Demand?

For special category status category states, the Centre meets 90 percent of the funds required in a centrally sponsored scheme as against 60 percent in case of normal category states. The remaining funds are provided by the state governments.

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.

“They (Centre) are with a predetermination…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 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 on line,” he said.

Naidu hoped the Centre would at least now respect the sentiments of the people of Andhra Pradesh.

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