Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party president N. Chandrababu Naidu’s all-party meeting to chalk out a future course of action to achieve special category status for the state evoked poor response, with all major opposition parties in the state staying away. Besides YSR Congress, BJP and Jana Sena, Congress and the Left parties—CPI and CPM—too boycotted the four-hour meeting on Saturday evening. This is being considered as a setback for Naidu, who wanted to build a coalition of parties against the BJP-led Central government ahead of next year’s elections for the state Assembly and the Lok Sabha. Naidu’s all-party meet held at AP Secretariat in Amaravati is second in the series of such meetings. The Congress and the Left parties were present in the first meeting convened on 27 March. This time, only small parties such as Forward Block, RSP and some employees and other front bodies turned up. YSR Congress leader Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is on a “padayatra” at Tenali in Guntur district turned down the all-party proposal, saying that there was no point holding discussions when the Centre was firm on denying special status to AP. Jagan said that instead TDP should join his party’s MPs to resign from the Lok Sabha.
BJP Legislature Party leader Vishnu Kumar Raju wrote a letter to the Chief Minister saying that the all-party meeting was intended to divert the attention of the people from the Naidu government’s failures in the last four years. Raju dared Naidu for a public debate on the funds released by the Centre and details of their spending.
Jana Sena’s Pawan Kalyan refused to attend the all-party meet saying that it was too late and too little to hold such meetings now. The two Left parties too felt that the Chief Minister should have taken this initiative a year ago. Congress party’s AP president, N. Raghuveera Reddy criticised the CM for not taking an all-party delegation to Delhi or to meet the Prime Minister.
The CM, who gave a presentation at the meeting on what had happened during his recent Delhi visit, said that he wanted to form a long term agitation to achieve the special status as well as other promises made to AP at the time of the bifurcation. Several TDP ministers and legislators were present at the meeting.
Naidu claimed that certain forces were trying to destabilise his government by creating law and order problems in the name of fighting for the rights of the state. He attacked YSR Congress leader Jagan for siding with the Prime Minister at a time when the entire state needed to mount pressure on the Centre to achieve AP’s interests.
The Chief Minister told the representatives of those who were present at Saturday’s meeting that he wanted to continue the agitation with public support but without causing disturbance to law and order. He said that any incidents of violence would affect industrialisation and spoil the present peaceful atmosphere in the state.
The all-party meeting appears to be the last attempt on the part of Naidu to keep his fight for special status alive as Parliament session ended on 6 April Friday. The TDP MPs’ stir in and outside Parliament too had to be stopped and Naidu has also turned down the proposal of Jagan that all the 25 MPs from AP should quit Parliament.
Sources in TDP told this newspaper that the Chief Minister henceforth wants to carry forward his fight for special status as well as other promises through a sustained campaign among the public. Collecting donations from the public for the construction of Amaravati city is part of the campaign as it would attract participation from a large number of people in the ruling party’s efforts.