‘The total size of funds sought from the Centre could be around Rs 75,000 crore’.

 

 

Hyderabad: In his first ever meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the elections, Telangana Chief Minister and TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has offered political support to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and sought a hefty financial package for the state to tide over from deep budgetary deficit in the wake of the economic slowdown.

KCR called on PM Modi at his official LK Marg residence in New Delhi on Friday evening and held detailed discussions that covered both political and official matters. This is KCR’s first meeting with the Prime Minister in nine months. Though KCR sought appointment of the PM after he assumed power for a second term in May, it couldn’t materialise due to various reasons.

The meeting lasting about an hour, was described by sources close to the CM as “cordial” and “candid”, restored the personal ties between KCR and PM Modi after the former’s failed attempts to experiment with a federal front at the national level before the general elections. Still, the BJP won four MPs in Telangana and has emerged as a major Opposition force, pushing aside the Congress.

KCR was accompanied by a large delegation of his party leaders, including Telangana State Planning Board vice-chairman and former MP B. Vinod Kuamr and several MPs to the PM office. The presence of the party MPs is intended to signify the cooperation between TRS and BJP. It may be noted that KCR never sided with the Congress-led Opposition camp.

KCR is believed to have sought a hefty package from the Centre to tide over this crisis, though the quantum of assistance he sought is not known immediately. A member of the delegation who was with the Chief Minister at the PMO told this newspaper on phone from Delhi on condition of anonymity that the total size of the funds sought from the Centre could be around Rs 75,000 crore.

In his meeting, KCR is understood to have briefed the PM about his recent talks with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy on issues pertaining to both the states. KCR has submitted a wish list which includes funding of major irrigation projects in Telangana, especially the Kaleswaram lift irrigation scheme across the Godavari river, costing around Rs 80,000 crore.

KCR asked the PM to declare Kaleswaram as a national project at par with the Polavaram project across the same Godavari in AP. The Centre has agreed to fund around Rs 55,000 crore to Polavaram as part of an assurance given in the AP Reorganization Act 2014. Now, KCR wants a similar national project status to Kaleswaram too.

Besides, the CM sought Central assistance to a project to link major rivers Godavari and Krishna which would irrigate lakhs of acres of parched lands in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. This river-linking scheme is in tune with the Modi government’s plans to connect major perennial rivers in the country to solve drinking as well as irrigation needs of upland people.

Another major issue that came up for discussions between the CM and the PM is the severe budgetary cuts, to a tune of around Rs 40,000 crore in Telangana, thanks to falling revenue collections in the wake of the current economic slowdown. The GST collections have fallen, routine tax collections have stagnated, while expenditure and payments of interest have gone up in Telangana, triggering an economic crisis.

KCR is understood to have congratulated the PM on his recent successful tour of US, including the speech at Houston’s Indian Americans. Sources said that the CM had congratulated the PM on his resounding victory in the general elections.

KCR also held discussions with Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah before meeting the Prime Minister. In his talks with Shah, the CM is understood to have raised several long-pending issues of the state like Central assistance to the backward districts etc. More than that, the CM is believed to have assured TRS support to the BJP in Rajya Sabha on major issues.

KCR later called on Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and submitted another memorandum, seeking allotment of 33 acres of defence lands in Secunderabad so that the state could build some office complexes there. This issue has been pending for the last six years and the assurances given by previous defence ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Arun Jaitley.

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