Naidu stages fast for Andhra special status, oppn joins in to show ‘anti-BJP’ unityhttps://indianexpress.com/elections/chandrababu-naidu-andhra-special-status-rahul-gandhi-modi-govt-opposition-unity-5578654/

Naidu stages fast for Andhra special status, oppn joins in to show ‘anti-BJP’ unity

TDP chief Naidu is demanding that the Centre fulfil promises made during Andhra Pradesh's bifurcation in 2014.

Naidu stages fast for Andhra special status, big show of opposition unity at protest venue
Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu on a daylong protest at Andhra Bhawan in New Delhi on Monday. (Express Photo by Praveen Khanna.)

Ratcheting up his demand for a special category status for Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu on Monday observed a daylong fast at Andhra Bhawan and mounted a fresh offensive against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of not following ‘raj dharma’ by denying the state special status. He ended his fast with water offered by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda around 8 PM.

The TDP chief has been demanding that the Centre fulfil promises made during Andhra Pradesh’s bifurcation in 2014.

Several opposition leaders lent support to Naidu’s fasting by visiting him at the protest venue. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, National Congress chairperson Farooq Abdullah, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, NCP’s Majeed Memon, Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’ Brien, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva and Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav were among those who met the TDP chief and extended their support.

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Congress president Rahul Gandhi extended his support to Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu who is fasting at Andhra Bhawan demanding special category status for his state. (Express Photo by Praveen Khanna.)

“The prime minister has stolen from the people from Andhra Pradesh and he has given that money to Anil Ambani. That is the fact of the matter,” Gandhi alleged at the protest venue in an apparent reference to the Rafale fighter jet deal with France. The government and Ambani, however, have rejected Gandhi’s allegations of corruption in the deal.

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Slamming Modi’s speech in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, on Sunday, O’Brien said the prime minister did not talk about the development or special category status but “started a personal attack”. “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others,” he said.

Joining the chorus of criticism against Modi, Abdullah lashed out at the PM and said, “Modi has stooped so low, he’s making personal attacks against Naidu, who is doing a great service to the country.”

“The Jammu-Srinagar highway is closed for six days. They cannot clear the 30km road, but they want to rule the country,” he added.

Mulayam Yadav said he was not well but had come to show endorse Naidu’s stand. “Naidu is fighting the battle for the poor, the farmers and all those who are oppressed,” he added.

Kejriwal, on the other hand, launched a broadside at the Modi government over the alleged mistreatment meted out to states being run by governments of opposition parties. “One may have voted for any party but after elections, whoever wins and becomes the CM, is the CM of the entire state and not of a particular party. Similarly, when one becomes the PM, then he is the PM of the entire country, not just one party.

“The way PM Modi treats governments of opposition parties in states, he behaves like he is not the PM of India but PM of Pakistan,” Kejriwal said.

Having severing ties with the BJP-led NDA last year protesting the “injustice” done to Andhra Pradesh after its bifurcation, the TDP chief is trying to be in public eye as much as possible.

Naidu’s ‘Dharma Porata Deeksha’ (a day-long protest for justice) began at 8 am. He will also submit a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind on February 12. He paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat and also to the Ambedkar Statue at the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan before sitting on the hunger strike.

With PTI inputs