'The TDP walking out of the NDA is a victory for the YSRCP.'
'The YSRCP wanted it to happen so that it would help them in coming elections.'
IMAGE: Vice-President Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu. Photograph: Kind courtesy, N Chandrababu Naidu's Twitter page
The Telugu Desam Party first withdrew two ministers from the Narendra D Modi government, then TDP leader and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance in protest against the Centre not granting a special category status to the state.
The TDP went to the extent of moving a no-confidence motion against the Modi Sarkar, which been proposed by its rival in Andhra Pradesh, the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party.
How does Bharatiya Janata Party politicians in Andhra Pradesh feel about the episode?
"The TDP is the natural ally of the BJP because it also has its origin as anti-Congress," retired professor turned politician Dr Kambhampati Hari Babu, left, one of the two BJP MPs from Andhra Pradesh, tells Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier.
Prime Minister Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley spoke to Chandrababu Naidu. Still, the TDP left the NDA. What political compulsions made Naidu leave the NDA?
This is an election year and every party has a political strategy to face the election.
In Andhra Pradesh, the TDP wants to play the role of one-upmanship over the principal Opposition party, the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party. That was why all this happened.
In my opinion, the TDP fell into the political trap laid by the YSRCP.
The YSRCP wanted to project the special category status as a major issue in the elections.
The TDP -- which had earlier agreed for a special package in lieu of a special category status -- thought that public sentiment might be in favour of special status.
Then, Naidu took a U-turn and said they (the TDP) were also for only special category status and not a special financial package. This change was only to play one-upmanship on the YSRCP.
To separate the TDP and the BJP, the YSRCP demanded that the ministers in the central government resign.
The TDP played into the hands of the YSRCP and asked its ministers to resign.
Then, the YSRCP demanded that the TDP should come out of the NDA and they did follow that too.
After that, the YSRCP proclaimed it would move a no-confidence motion. The TDP said it would also move a no-confidence motion.
You will see that the TDP was just following the footsteps of the YSRCP.
I would say the TDP walking out of the NDA is a victory for the YSRCP.
The YSRCP got what it wanted. The YSRCP wanted it to happen so that it would help them in the coming elections.
Are you not worried that the TDP has walked out? The state will face assembly elections in 2019.
We did not want the TDP to walk out.
The BJP has always treated the TDP as its trusted ally. The TDP is the natural ally of the BJP because it also has its origin as anti-Congress.
If you remember, (the late Telugu movie superstar and Chandrababu Naidu's father-in-law) N T Rama Rao started the TDP as an anti-Congress political party. The BJP is also anti-Congress.
We wanted the TDP to be with us, but they pulled out for their own political reasons.
The BJP has fulfilled many of the promises made to the state of Andhra Pradesh even though those commitments were to be fulfilled over a period of 10 years.
We have taken steps to fulfil many of them in just three-and-a-half years.
Yes, some issues are pending. There should not be any doubt or worry in anybody's minds about not completing the remaining issues. We will do them in the next one year.
What is your response to the complaint that the Centre has not released a single paisa for any of the centrally sponsored schemes worth Rs 16,477 crores?
Even though the Centre has not given the name 'special category status', the BJP had committed whatever financial help to the state which is equal to what the special category status gets.
Which is, a difference of 60% to 90% for centrally sponsored scheme funding. This has been calculated for the last three years and to the tune of Rs 9,300 crores.
There will be another Rs 6,000 plus crores in future too. It means the special financial status for the state of Andhra Pradesh is around Rs 16,000 crores.
Has the Centre not released any money yet?
The state government had requested that the Rs 16,000 crore assistance could be given to externally aided projects like the ones given by the World Bank, IMF, etc.
The state government wanted the central government to take care of the loans. That was the understanding.
After one-and-a-half years, the state government realised it was taking a lot of time for the external projects to happen.
On January 3, 2018, the state government requested the Government of India to consider extending help to domestic financial institutions like NABARD as the external projects did not materialise. This was agreed to by the finance minister.
Then the issue of FRBM (fiscal responsibility and business management) came up.
If the amount goes to the state, the FRBM for Andhra Pradesh will be affected.
That was when the central government suggested the state government form a special purpose vehicle so that the FRBM problem could be overcome.
Now, they have gone back from a special financial package to special category status.
The problem is, if the state accepts the amount, it means they were accepting the special package.
So, they are not coming forward to take the money. The ball is in the state government's court. They have to decide whether to take the money or not.
Anyway, the Government of India is ready to give the money.
Didn't the prime minister also promise special category status in 2014?
The special category status was demanded in 2014 because the division of the state of Andhra Pradesh was going to happen and the new state needed financial assistance.
The central government was to help fill the deficit as there would be more expenditure than revenue. That could be done only by declaring the state under special category status.
But the 14th Financial Commission appointed by the earlier government recommended that the devolution of taxes for the states be increased from 32% to 42%.
So, if you calculated the revenue deficit of the newly formed state of Andhra Pradesh from 2015-2016 for five years, it would come to Rs 22,000 crores.
The Government of India agreed to give the deficit to the state of Andhra Pradesh.
There was also a recommendation by the 14th Finance Commission that there should not be any distinction between special category states and general category states in allocating funds.
When there cannot be any difference between special category states and general states in the allocation of funds, what is the advantage of having special category status?
That is why we are saying some people are confused about demanding special category status.
For any new industry to set up in Andhra Pradesh, the Centre gives 15% additional allowance in additional to the 15% investment allowance.
People may say this was not enough. But claiming that nothing was given to the state of Andhra Pradesh is wrong.
You mean, the Centre did not go back on its promise?
What about the sentiment of the people?
It is true that the sentiment of the people is for a special category status. But they should understand that the Government of India has given financial benefits to the state.
This has to be explained to the people. And we will explain to the people of Andhra Pradesh that the central government has given justice to the state.
I am sure ultimately the BJP will benefit from what we have done for the state.
For 58 years, Andhra Pradesh was one state and there was not a single institution of repute in this area.
But we have sanctioned 11 institutions in the last three-and-a-half years which this area did not get in 58 years.
The state of Andhra Pradesh has got funds in the last three-and-a-half years which no state government has got after Independence.
What was the relationship like between the TDP and the state BJP?
We had a very good relationship and we worked together for the state of Andhra Pradesh. I am happy that we brought a lot of projects for the state.
When the next assembly elections happen in 2019, will the BJP be friendless?
Our strategy now is to strengthen the BJP at the grass root level.
Whether we have friends or not, whether anybody is coming with us or not, our immediate goal is to strengthen the party.
Any political party will have ambition to grow by itself. Having such an ambition is not a sin. We will definitely put all our efforts to fulfil the ambition.
The other day actor-politician Pawan Kalyan said the South had been exploited and ignored by the Centre. What is your response?
Every political party has a strategy to rouse public opinion. Some people think raising the south India versus north India issue may help them. Let us see which issue will have an impact on people.
The DMK's M K Stalin also spoke of Dravida Nadu to unite all south Indian states. Do you think there is a north-south divide and the BJP is looked at as a north Indian party even now?
The BJP is a national party with a nationalist outlook. The BJP is not interested in rousing parochial sentiments.
The BJP is against the idea of raising north India, south India etc. We are for India.
You are a retired professor and have dealt with a lot of youngsters. Currently, the talking point in India is the rise in unemployment.
Will this be the biggest issue when the BJP faces the electorate in 2019 as Narendra Modi promised millions of jobs in 2014?
Some people think the only jobs are the ones in an office.
In my opinion, we are providing a lot of opportunities to young men and women to start their own ventures.
You take the Mudra loan scheme, for example. Today 10.6 crore people are benefitted by the Mudra loan scheme at the lowest rate of interest. Banks have released Rs 4.3 lakh crores through Mudra loans.
In this way, the government is creating opportunities for people to earn a living.
If you look at the employment figures given by even non-BJP ruled states, you will see that employment generation is happening.
You just take a look at the EPF (Employees Provident Fund) account numbers in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. The EPF accounts are only for those who are employed.
If the number of EPF accounts are increasing, what does it mean?
The other day (Congress President) Rahul Gandhi spoke of the rise in unemployment and farmers' problems in the last three-and-a-half years.
My question is: How much of these issues could the UPA solve in the 10 years they ruled the country?
Why couldn't they solve them in 10 years? And he is questioning Narendra Modi for not solving them in three-and-a-half years.