In his first attack on Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu for his decision to break ties with his party, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah on Saturday said the Andhra Pradesh chief minister’s move was guided by political consideration and not development concerns, and dubbed his criticism of the Centre as “untrue and baseless”.
In a nine-page letter to Naidu, Shah dwelt at length about development works undertaken by the Centre in the state to assert that it has fulfilled the promises made under the AP Reorganisation Act, which divided the state in 2014, and underlined the BJP’s “unquestionable commitment” to it.
Seeking to turn the tables on Naidu, he accused his government of “serious lapses”, saying it has not provided the Centre appropriate fund utilisation details and that Naidu’s comments that his government was under no obligation to give any expenditure statement were “evasive and reflect governance deficit”.
Upset over the Centre’s stand that it cannot grant special category status to the state, the TDP broke its four-year ties with the BJP and has now moved a no confidence motion against the Modi government in Lok Sabha.
Shah dubbed the attack on the Centre by parties in Andhra Pradesh over the issue as a case of political parties “whipping up public sentiments” rather than encouraging an informed debate which, he said, is the cornerstone of a vibrant democracy.
He said Andhra Pradesh is the only state to receive revenue deficit award for five years and that the National Democratic Alliance government has more than doubled assistance to it in the last five years. He also gave details of the central help to the state for developing its new capital and also the Polavaram irrigation project.
“I would like you to introspect whether political parties should be pitting sentiments and development against each other to further their political agenda... This decision (quitting NDA) is both unfortunate as well as unilateral. It is a decision that I am afraid will be construed as being guided wholly and solely by political considerations instead of developmental concerns,” Shah said.
Shah also told Naidu that the BJP ensured that “justice” was done to the state when it was divided and the TDP did not have much representation in either the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha.
The Congress was in power at the Centre as well as the state in 2014.
The BJP’s stand was in a direct contrast to the Congress, “which not only mismanaged the bifurcation but also showed zero sensitivity towards the Telugu people, which is in line with their historic apathy to the Telugu community,” he said.
It is widely known that the Union government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has left no stone unturned in ensuring the growth and prosperity of Andhra Pradesh, he said.
The Centre has already initiated action on five feasible projects out of eight infrastructure projects that the AP Reorganisation Act proposes. It has also given an approval to Vijayawada metro rail project of Rs 6,769 crore but is still waiting for a revised project from the state, Shah said.
The 14th finance commission has awarded the state revenue deficit grants of Rs 2,2113 crore in five years and the total award of funds to the state under tax devolution and grants under various heads during the five years between 2015 and 2020 is Rs 2,44,271 crore, he said.
A perusal of these would reaffirm what you already know and perhaps won’t 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 said.
The central government has not only fulfilled its statutory obligations under the AP Reorganisation Act. 2014 but has gone far beyond to ensure that the state becomes financially strong, he said.
He also rejected Naidu’s claim of Rs 16,000 crore deficit in the year 2014-15 as fallacious as this includes the state government’s expenditure on farm loan waivers and pensions.
Even BJP governments in different states have implemented similar loan waiver schemes to give relief to the farmers but have met such expenditure from their own sources, he said.