‘TDP to fight for its demands, but won’t leave NDA for now’

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Hyderabad/Mumbai: N. Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is bitter that the Union budget had nothing special for Andhra Pradesh, but will stick with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for now. Instead of leaving the coalition, the party will raise its demands in Parliament.

The decision was taken at an emergency meeting of Naidu and TDP MPs at Vijayawada on Sunday to deliberate their next course of action. TDP had high hopes from the budget, expecting substantial funding for its upcoming capital Amaravati and the Polavaram irrigation project.

“As of now, the alliance is still there. We will definitely fight it out (in Parliament). The BJP has not said anything about not wanting an alliance. I am confident that things will be fine,” Union minister and TDP’s parliamentary leader Y.S. Chowdary told reporters after the meeting. Despite the disappointment with the budget, TDP is expecting a positive response from the centre in the next four days, Chowdary said.

Recently, Naidu had stated that if the BJP does not want the alliance, the TDP will chart its own course. His statements were seen as a response to the growing criticism against the TDP from the BJP’s state unit.

Chowdary rejected reports that Naidu had talked to BJP’s national president Amit Shah about the alliance. The Union minister also said that the TDP will raise in Parliament all promises made for AP after its bifurcation in 2014.

A TDP leader from Andhra Pradesh, who did not want to be identified, said his party is on the verge of leaving the alliance, but is still testing waters with the hope that things might still get sorted out. “There is fermentation of anti-BJP feeling in the party and among the people. So, if things don’t improve, then we will strike,” he said.

The TDP leader added that Andhra Pradesh was expecting more than the Rs1,330 crore it received for Polavaram, and was hoping for a new railway zone for Visakhapatnam, among other things. “The next 20 days are important. If the alliance does break, the party will go ahead and say that only Naidu can save AP from its problems as the centre is not giving funds,” he said.

A Shiv Sena functionary, who works in the publicity wing of the party, said that Naidu had called party chief Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday morning. “All BJP allies are unhappy with the way BJP is treating them even though they are the ones who helped the BJP grow. This is not how Atalji (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) treated NDA constituents. Naiduji is feeling slighted and that is why he got in touch with Uddhav sahib,” he said.

However, the Shiv Sena has not officially confirmed the telephone call. On 23 January, Thackeray had declared that the Sena, another NDA constituent, would fight the next round of elections alone. Soon after, Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana wrote about other NDA constituents including the TDP feeling unhappy with the BJP. The TDP leader, however, denied it and said that no such communication has been made.

A Maharashtra BJP functionary, who did not want to be named, said the Sena leadership was deliberately fuelling this “speculation” about Naidu calling Thackeray. “Naidu could be unhappy but he is not the one who would resort to such tactics. The Shiv Sena leadership is deliberately planting such stories about Naidu calling Uddhav Thackeray. The speculation was created a day before the TDP meeting to create an impression that all BJP allies are breaking away which is not the case,” said the BJP functionary.livemint