In an unusual move, Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu has stepped in to resolve the Parliamentary stand-off created by MPs from Andhra Pradesh. He has set a deadline of 5 March to end the crisis. Naidu, in his capacity as the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, called BJP president Amit Shah and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to his chamber and told them to try and resolve the impasse.
Shah and Jaitley had a detailed meeting with minister of state for science and technology Sujana Chowdary and another MP C.M. Ramesh, both from TDP, and they promised them to come up with a solution to the various demands put forth by AP government. Shah is understood to have assured the TDP leaders that an announcement would be made after PM Narendra Modi returns from his foreign tour next week.
Sources close to Venkaiah Naidu told The Sunday Guardian that Shah was concerned about the possibility of the TDP’s exit from the NDA.
Usually, Vice-Presidents do not directly call ministers or the ruling party’s leaders for a talk. “However, the VP, who was elected by the support of several parties, including the TDP, was pained at having been forced to evict from the House some members who supported him,” an aide of Venkaiah Naidu told this newspaper on phone, explaining why the VP held such a meeting.
Jaitley had informed Chowdary and Ramesh that the Centre might announce a separate railway zone for AP, located at either Visakhapatnam or Vijayawada and a steel factory at Kadapa or some other place immediately.
Jaitely, in the presence of Shah, informed the AP leaders that contentious issues like sanctioning a sea port at Duggarajapatnam in Nellore district might not be possible as ISRO had objected to its location on security concerns. Similarly, the sanctioning of a petrochemicals corridor between Visakhapatnam and Kakinada too needed some more clearances.
But other issues like releasing additional funds to make up for the revenue deficit of AP, equivalent to granting a special status (where Centre extends 90% of funds to all Centrally sponsored schemes), would not be a problem. The FM had told the TDP leaders that the Centre would sanction enough funds to complete the Polavaram irrigation project by 2019.
There are several other minor demands that had been promised to AP at the time of the combined state’s bifurcation in 2014 and they would all be incorporated in the statement which would be announced after the PM’s approval next week. There was also a proposal to set up a panel of MPs from both the sides to review the implementation of the decisions. The TDP leadership has decided to put on hold its agitations against the Union Budget till 5 March, when the Parliament meets again after a recess. “If the Centre fails to satisfy us by then, we will again stall the proceedings of Parliament after 5 March,” TDP MP N. Kistappa told this newspaper.