BJP president Amit Shah told TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu in a nine-page letter that his leaving the NDA was “purely guided wholly and solely by political considerations rather than developmental concerns”. Naidu responded by describing Shah’s letter as an undignified “pack of lies” that insulted the people of Andhra Pradesh.
In his unusually long letter, dated March 23, a week after the TDP walked out of the NDA over the Centre’s refusal to grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh, Shah alleged that Naidu and his party had ignored the initiatives taken by the central government after the bifurcation of the state. “You may recall that during the previous Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, when your party did not have adequate representation, it was the BJP that set the agenda and ensured that justice was done to hard-working Telugu people in both States,” Shah said.
He listed the Centre’s financial assistance and projects for the state, and said, “A perusal of these would reaffirm what you already know but do not admit — that the Central government has fulfilled its obligations and that the BJP is a genuine friend and true well-wisher of the people of Andhra Pradesh.”
Shah rejected AP’s claim of a revenue deficit of Rs 16,000 crore for the financial year 2014-15 as “fallacious” because it included expenditure on farm loan waiver and pensions. “Our party-led State governments have made similar expenditure on loan waivers but from their own resources. The Central government cannot make these payments as they discriminate between States,” he said.
The BJP chief underlined that the 14th Finance Commission had done away with Special Category states, and “It is regrettable that some political parties are whipping up sentiments instead of engaging in informed debate”.
Naidu responded sharply. “What Shah wrote is a pack of lies and half-truths,” he told the Assembly. “It is not only insulting but also provoking the people of AP. It lacked any dignity.” The language of the letter was “unbecoming of a national party president,” the chief minister said. “Is there dignity in it? The letter is full of discrepancies and mistakes. Except for finding fault with me, the letter did not address the issues concerning AP.”
Naidu dared the Narendra Modi government to review the implementation of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, and place the facts before Parliament. “We waited patiently for four years for justice to the state. We remained a loyal friend (of the NDA) but snapped ties only when it did not honour any of the promises,” he said. “There are no political considerations except the state’s interests,” Naidu said. “Our decision was in tune with the people’s sentiments.The TDP is a progressive party.”
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had always respected him, and the TDP had never hankered after posts, Naidu said: “Vajpayee offered six-seven cabinet berths (during NDA-I) but we did not take… We have taken two berths offered by Modi but did not ask for any specific portfolio. We have not lobbied for any other posts. We did not even seek a Governor’s post.”
In the evening, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee weighed in on Naidu’s side in the exchange, posting on Twitter that her AP counterpart had “stated the facts”. “Very good,” she tweeted. “There are many so called leaders who spread lies. They make this a habit. They try and bulldoze States and show that they are doing the States a favour by giving funds. This is fake federalism.”