VIJAYAWADA: With the Centre making it clear that special category status for Andhra Pradesh is not possible and most TDP MLAs and MLCs wanting the party to end its alliance with BJP, TDP president and chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu is likely to set the separation process in motion beginning with the resignation of two TDP ministers — Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Y S Chowdhary — from the Narendra Modi cabinet.
A survey among the TDP cadre showed that 95 per cent favour ending the partnership with the BJP, struck just ahead of the 2014 national election. Mr Naidu is expected to address the state assembly today.
TDP lawmakers have continuously pressured the government ever since the union budget was presented, disrupting Parliament by shouting slogans demanding that Andhra Pradesh be given central funding under special status, promised to the state when it was bifurcated to carve out a new state Telangana.
Other parties have joined in. Apart from Andhra Pradesh's chief opposition party the YSR Congress, lawmakers from the Congress and Trinamool Congress too protested in Parliament on Tuesday.
BJP sources in Delhi appeared to be bracing for what looked like an imminent parting of ways with the ally.
"We are committed to development of Andhra Pradesh and have done everything possible to help the state government. But we cannot meet impossible demands. We cannot give special category status on the ground of backwardness because on that count it is Bihar which should be considered first," a senior BJP leader said.
"Now, they are demanding tax concessions and we cannot make that exception for a state," another BJP leader said, conceding that the de-escalation expected after a meeting of TDP MPs with finance minister Arun Jaitley had not materialised.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi waded into the tussle and said his party would grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh if voted to power in 2019.
"We will give special category status to Andhra Pradesh. It's the first thing we will do after coming to power in 2019," he told a group of party workers protesting at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to demand special status for the state.
"I am confident that if we stand together, we will convince the government of India and PM Narendra Modi that what is due to the people of Andhra Pradesh should be given to them," he added.