Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who skipped his 68th birthday celebrations on Friday to sit on a 12-hour long hunger strike at Vijayawada, launched an attack on the NDA government at the Centre accusing it of denying the state the special status as promised at the time of the bifurcation of combined Andhra Pradesh in 2014 by the then UPA government. He claimed he would be the kingmaker and decide who the Prime Minister would be after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Naidu, who is also the president of the ruling Telugu Desam Party, sat on a fast at Indira Gandhi Municipal Grounds from 7 am to 7 pm, as thousands of party workers and leaders marched past him at the venue. The CM said that “this is a fight between the Centre and the state”.

All the ministers in his Cabinet too sat on fast at different district headquarters and all MLAs, MLCs and MPs led the protests in all the 175 Assembly constituencies across the state. The party mobilised various people’s outfits to show their solidarity with the protest demonstrations. Dozens of leaders spoke at the venue from morning to evening, mostly lashing out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Naidu too came down heavily on the PM, alleging that the latter had failed to maintain the coalition “dharma” when TDP was part of the ruling NDA for four years. “The PM ignored us just because he has full majority in Lok Sabha. He insulted me as he thought I cannot do anything to him,” Naidu thundered.

The CM then said that he would be in a position to decide who the next PM would be after the 2019 elections, if voters gave him all the 25 Lok Sabha seats from Andhra. “We will decide the next PM—whoever gives us special status and fulfils all the promises made to us on the floor of the Parliament four years ago. No one can ignore us if we have 25 Lok Sabha members,” he said.

Naidu said that the BJP leadership created a situation where he was forced to quit the NDA, just because its leaders were assured that Jagan’s YSR Congress would chip in and back them by offering the BJP more Lok Sabha seats to contest from in the next elections. “I am much senior to PM Modi in politics; he (Modi) became the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002, but I was Chief Minister in1995,” said Naidu.

The TDP president alleged that the BJP leadership thought that they could easily control Jagan, who was embroiled in CBI cases, compared to an upright and senior leader like him. That was the reason why the PM denied him an appointment for one and a half years, but granted audience to Jagan and his MPs instantly, he claimed.

Naidu called upon the people of Andhra to continue the stir until the next elections. “I never take up anything just like that in my life, but once I begin (stir), I will not rest till the goals are achieved. I haven’t done any crime in life, so I don’t have to be afraid of the Centre or the CBI,” he said.

The CM said that he can mobilise funds through bonds from the public and build a world-class capital city of Amaravati, but as a state, AP should not be denied of its rightful share from the Centre. “We are very much a part of India like any other state, so why should we forego our just share in funds? This is a fight for our rights,” he said.

Several speakers who spoke at the venue earlier attacked the PM and the BJP and vowed that they would ensure that the BJP did not win a single seat in AP in the next elections. Naidu’s brother-in-law, TDP MLA from Hindupur and film hero N. Balakrishna stunned all by using harsh words against PM Modi, saying: “I am warning you, Mr Modi, jung abhi bhi baaki hai (the war is not yet over).”

On the other hand, other Opposition parties dubbed Naidu’s 12-hour protest as a drama. YSR Congress MLA and film actress R.K. Roja said that the CM had no right to speak about the special status as he had earlier settled for a special package. BJP MP G.V.L. Narasimha Rao in Delhi said that the party would come up with full facts and information on Naidu’s protest.

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