2 Telugu Desam ministers quit Modi cabinet over special status to Andhra

Two federal ministers  of Telugu Desam (TD) left Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet following orders from party head and Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Chandrababu Naidu (pictured right).

Naidu spoke for about 20 minutes with Naidu on phone on Thursday to defuse the situation but Naidu remained adamant on  the Centre granting Special Category Status (SCS) to Andhra Pradesh.

Minutes after the talk,  Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Minister of State for Science YS Chowdary submitted their resignations to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Although the ministers have pulled out of the federal cabinet, TD will continue to support Modi’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for now.

Naidu made the move late on Wednesday after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told media that the Centre cannot grant SCS to the state.

Soon after Jaitley ruled out the possibility, TD went into a huddle. Naidu had a quick chat with Raju and Chowdary and legislators in the state assembly. Most of them wanted the ministers to leave the cabinet.

“The Centre has been taking one-sided decisions and our patience has run out now. When the purpose of joining the union cabinet hasn’t been fulfilled, it’s best to resign now,” Naidu tweeted after announcing the decision.

Naidu objected to the federal government denying the state its rights. While the nation’s defence and security needs are paramount, describing state leaders as greedy for funds and money is most uncalled for, he said.

This is not the bifurcation of the state the party wanted, Naidu said. He described the division of the state (into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh) as unscientific.

Meanwhile, in a tit for tat, the two BJP members in the Andhra Pradesh Cabinet Kamineni Srinivas and P. Manikyala Rao also resigned. Srinivas said when TD ministers left the federal cabinet, it is not proper for them to continue in the state cabinet.

 Federal view

Citing the 14th Finance Commission, Jaitley said the federal government is committed to give monetary equivalent of a special status to Andhra Pradesh. He said they are awaiting a reply from Andhra Pradesh government.

Just because the issue is political, the quantum of assistance could not be increased, he said.

Citing the Commission, he said the category of “special status” does not exist anymore. Hence, Andhra Pradesh cannot given that status.