Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Monday began a 12-hour long fast in Delhi demanding the Centre to accord Special Category status to his state and fulfil other commitments made in Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.
Clad in a black shirt as a mark of protest, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief began his ‘Dharma Porata Deeksha’ at the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan.
In a stern warning to the Centre, Naidu said, “If you won’t fulfil our demands, we know how to get them fulfilled”.
He said the issue was about the self-respect of the people of Andhra Pradesh and that they would not tolerate any attack against it.
“I am warning this government and particularly the PM to stop attacking an individual,” he said in a strongly worded speech at the dharna.
After paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat, Naidu along with other TDP leaders reached AP Bhavan, where they garlanded the statue of Babasaheb BR Ambedkar before launching the protest.
The TDP chief will submit a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday.
Naidu’s cabinet colleagues, MPs, state legislators and leaders of student and employees groups and mass organisations are sitting with him on the fast.
A number of Opposition party leaders including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, are expected to extend their support to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief’s fast.
A large number of protestors have also joined Naidu in the 12-hour-long protest. They reached the national capital by two special trains hired by the state government.
Andhra Pradesh government had hired two special trains at a cost of Rs 1.12 crore to ferry people to New Delhi.
Naidu is now openly supporting the so-called grand alliance against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Before leaving for Delhi, Naidu had said that “PM Modi was going to witness the injustice done to Andhra by him”.
Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a scathing attack on Naidu saying that while the Centre released adequate funds for the state, it was the state government which failed to use the funds.
“In past 55 months, the Central government released adequate funds for the development of Andhra. However, the state government never utilised the funds allocated in an efficient manner,” he said, countering the TDP government’s charge.
Slamming Naidu for his decision to hold a protest against the Centre in New Delhi, Modi mocked the TDP chief saying that he is coming for a “photo opportunity” and said that while the BJP organises rallies using the money contributed by its workers, the TDP does that from the taxpayer’s money.
PM Modi’s visit to Guntur was his first to the state since the TDP withdrew from the BJP-led NDA government over the Centre’s failure to accord the Special Category status to AP.