Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday joined Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who is on a fast at New Delhi’s Andhra Bhawan demanding special category status for Andhra Pradesh.
Calling Narendra Modi “a liar”, the 48-year-old Gandhi said that the Prime Minister has “no credibility left”.
“I stand with the people of Andhra Pradesh. What sort of a PM is this that the PM’s post makes a commitment to people of AP and this PM does not fulfil it,” Gandhi said referring to the Andhra government’s accusation that the Centre failed to accord the status under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014.
“Mr Modi tells a lie wherever he goes. He has got no credibility left,” Gandhi said at the protest site.
Reiterating his “chowkidaar chor hai” jibe against the PM and referring to the Rafale deal, Gandhi said that Modi has “stolen from the people of AP and given the money to Anil Ambani”.
The Congress chief was also seen engaged in a conversation with Naidu, the chief of Telugu Desam Party (TDP). Both the Congress and the TDP are trying to form a mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Naidu began his day-long protest, dubbed ‘Dharma Porata Deeksha’, after paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat. Joined by other TDP leaders, Naidu garlanded the statue of Babasaheb BR Ambedkar at AP Bhawan before launching the protest with an attack on the PM.
Clad in a black shirt to protest the raw deal meted out to the state, Naidu slammed the PM for the latter’s scathing attack on him in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur on Sunday.
“Modi came to Guntur yesterday. He spent so much of time and so much energy to attack and criticise me but not to solve any problem. This is where you are totally imbalanced,” he said.
Naidu also cautioned the PM to stop making personal attacks and fulfil the demand of the state government in the next two days before this year’s last Lok Sabha session before general elections expires.
“If you don’t fulfil the promises you have made, we know how to get it done. This is a matter of self-respect of Andhra. We know how to earn money but whenever somebody hits our self-respect we don’t tolerate. This has been proven in the past,” he warned.
On Sunday, PM Modi had in Gutur said that while the Centre had disbursed funds for Andhra Pradesh the state government had failed to utilise them.
“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 that the Centre did not honour its promises made in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014.
“Our government gave to Andhra much more than what was mentioned in special status. CM of Andhra Pradesh acknowledged this package but took a U-turn as they failed to use the funds in the appropriate way and were not able to develop the state,” Modi said.
At the protest venue, Naidu was joined by a host of opposition leaders including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and LJD leader Sharad Yadav among others.
Naidu recalled that when then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced the SCS for five years, then BJP leaders in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitely and Venkaiah Naidu had insisted for a period of 10 years.
The Chief Minister reiterated that the Centre had failed to implement the provisions of Bifurcation Act, including funds to bridge the revenue deficit, railway zone in Visakhapatnam, steel plant in Kadapa and petrochemical corridor.
A large number of protesters have also joined Naidu. They reached the national capital by two special trains hired by the state government.