Throughout Thursday over a dozen MPs from Andhra Pradesh, mostly of TDP and a few of YSRCP, stood in the Lok Sabha well with placards demanding a special package. When Finance Minister Arun Jaitley spoke, he assured them a resolution on a package would be worked out “in a couple of days”.
As Jaitley stood up to deliver his reply to the discussion on the Budget, TDP members stood in front of him, urging him to start with Andhra, and mentioning the bandh in the state. Jaitley assured them he would speak on the issue, and did so at the end.
Amid disruptions by Congress on the Rafale deal, Jaitley asked the Andhra MPs to come closer since he had been running a fever. “Funds have been given and will continue to be given” for Andhra, he said. Without making announcements for a railway zone and other infrastructure projects that the Andhra legislature had been demanding, Jaitley said officials of his ministry have been holding discussions with Andhra officials and some resolution on the special package through externally aided projects and revenue deficit will be “worked out in the next couple of days”.
“We are already in discussion with various ministries, our friends from Andhra Pradesh are also in discussion and we are trying to find out a solution which is possible. We will try and do it extremely early. We are extremely sympathetic to the people of Andhra Pradesh and therefore would look into each one of these issues extremely sympathetically,” said Jaitley.
Narsimhan Thota, floor leader of BJP ally TDP, told The Indian Express later, “We are not satisfied at all with Jaitley’s reply”. Thota said Jaitley did not announce any special package or financial assistance and only spoke about the state “generally”. He added his party will continue to protest Friday.
“Save Andhra Pradesh, Save Democracy” and “Keep your promises” were two of the several placards TDP MPs held. Pointing to these, Aam Aadmi Party’s Bhagwant Mann said during a speech, “Promises of those who are part of the government aren’t getting fulfilled; how will ours?”
Earlier, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar had assured the Andhra MPs that the finance minister would address their concerns. In Rajya Sabha where, too, MPs stood in the well through the day, it was MoS Vijay Goel who made that assurance. The protesting MPs, however, refused to return to their seats, forcing many adjournments.
MoS for Science & Tech Y S Chowdary (TDP) said: “On behalf of Government of India, I would like to mention here that this House is fully aware on how the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act was passed so unscientifically and unreasonably, for which both the national parties are responsible…” —With Ritika Chopra, Rahul Tripathi & Avishek G Dastidar