New Delhi, March 8: In a jolt to the BJP, the TDP on Thursday quit the Modi government with its two ministers – Ashok Gajapati Raju (Civil Aviation) and Y.S. Chowdhry (MoS Science and Technology) – tendering their resignation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who made a last-ditch attempt to stave off the development.
However, the two ministers said the party was still part of the ruling National Democratic Alliance and it was hopeful that the promises made to Andhra Pradesh at the time of its bifurcation like grant of special category status to the residual state and other financial demands would be met.
“The party took a decision last night that we should resign. We have resigned now. It was a matter of courtesy that we met the Prime Minister and presented our resignation,” Raju and Chowdhry told the media after meeting Modi at his residence.
Their resignation came shortly after Modi spoke to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu over telephone and reportedly urged him to reconsider pulling out of the NDA government. But Naidu apparently told him of his compulsions.
In a related development, the BJP pulled out its two ministers from the Naidu government in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday morning.
The action by the TDP, which has 16 members in the Lok Sabha and six in Rajya Sabha, will have no impact on the stability of the Modi government which has sufficient numbers in parliament but will be seen as a big political setback because TDP is the first pre-poll ally to pull out of the Centre in nearly four years.
“We are continuing as part of the NDA. The problems are well known and we are hopeful that the committments made by the national parties at the time of bifurcation will be met. Everyone in Andhra Pradesh wants that the promises should be implemented. Solutions are being attempted. We are trying to get solutions. We hope solutions will come. We have resigned in a cordial atmosphere,” Chowdhry said.
Both ministers said they know that the clock cannot be put back on the bifurcation but there are sentiments and emotions in the state which are to be addressed.
Asked what was the Prime Minister’s response, they quoted him as saying it was unfortunate but he understood that it was a party decision. “I am with the state of Andhra Pradesh and for the people of Andhra Pradesh,” Modi told them.
Chowdhry said it was wrong for the media to expect that they went to negotiate with the Prime Minister. “It is for various departments of the Centre to work for fulfilling the demands of Andhra Pradesh.
“The major sentimental issue has not been addressed well in time. At least the special package should have been implemented by putting time-lines. People of Andhra Pradesh are very emotional. One national party has deceived us and the other has cheated us,” he said.
Asked about the deadline for the Centre to meet the TDP demands, he said, “16th Lok Sabha.”
He also said the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act should not have been passed amid din in Parliament.
Chowdhry conceded that the Centre did meet some demands but Andhra Pradesh needed a lot of hand-holding because demands like special category status were major emotional and sentimental issues.
In his resignation letter, Raju expressed his gratitude for the cooperation extended to him as a member of council of ministers. Chowdhry, in his letter, said he had enjoyed working with Modi and appreciated the suppport given to him.
“However, with due respect to the prevailing public sentiment in my constituency as well as the circumstances that led to that situation, and in adherence to the decision taken by my party (TDP) president, I am hereby tendering my resignation as Union Minister of State for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences,” Chowdhry said.
The two ministers drove to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence and handed over their resignations in accordance with the party’s decision to resign over the TDP’s charge that the Centre was not granting special status to Andhra Pradesh.