Andhra special status: Chandrababu meets Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi

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New Delhi: Days after severing ties with the NDA, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo Chandrababu Naidu, who is in the national capital, met his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday at the Andhra Bhawan.

The meeting between the two chief ministers began around 9 am.

Chandrababu Naidu, who is on his first visit to Delhi after breaking ties with NDA, is meeting opposition leaders to drum up support on pressuring the Centre to give a special category status to Andhra Pradesh.

In his meeting with Arvind Kejriwal, Chandrababu Naidu is likely to have explained the injustice being meted out to Andhra Pradesh despite assurances of a special status in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.

The TDP chief, who is on a two-day visit to Delhi, will also like to garner as much opposition support as possible for the no-confidence motion that is pending before Lok Sabha. The motion is supported by 80-odd MPs, Opposition has claimed, but has not been taken up by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, citing repeated disruptions and sloganeering.

Chandrababu Naidu’s visit comes a week after his West Bengal counterpart and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee spent a day in Parliament holding parleys with Opposition parties to forge a possible federal front against the BJP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Andhra Pradesh, however, has made it clear that his visit is “focused only on securing state’s interests” and there was “nothing political” about the visit.

Among those he met on Tuesday were Congress’s chief whip in Lok Sabha Jyotiraditya Scindia, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena’s Anant Geete, Trinamool leaders Derek O’Brien and Sudip Bandopadhyay, Ram Gopal Yadav of SP, AIADMK leader V Maitreyan and SC Mishra of BSP. However, it was Chandrababu Naidu’s long chat with sidelined BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi that set tongues wagging. Both leaders had a chat for more than 15 minutes. As both remained tight-lipped about what they discussed, speculation was rife in BJP circles.

He also met some BJP MPs, including Civil Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha and Hema Malini.

At the end of the day, Chandrababu Naidu on Tuesday tweeted, “Interacted with NCP President Sri Sharad Pawar @PawarSpeaks, JKNC President Dr Farooq Abdullah, Mr @derekobrienmp, Mr Sudip Bandyopadhyay from TMC & Congress Leader Sri @JM_Scindia, regarding no-confidence motion, highlighting the injustice done to AP for it’s ‘Special Status’.”

What has further united the opposition parties is the change of reference population from the 1971 Census to the 2001 Census under the 15th Finance Commission, due to which big states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal would each loose approximately Rs 20,000 crore each year. This issue was also discussed during Chandrababu Naidu’s meeting with the opposition leaders.

Meanwhile, the TDP MPs continued to protest outside the Parliament building, demanding Special Category Status for Andhra Pradesh.

Chandrababu Naidu had in March asked his party’s MPs to continue their ‘fight against injustice’ in Parliament.

In March, the Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP pulled itself out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over the special status issue.

They followed the exit with tabling a no-confidence motion against the Modi-government to grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh and directed its MPs to attend Parliament till the end of the Budget session.