Andhra Pradesh MLAs wear black badges to Assembly over special status row

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and other MLAs attended the state Assembly wearing black badges in protest against the Narendra Modi government at Centre. The mark of protest was over demand of special status for Andhra Pradesh.

The decision to wear black badges was taken at an all-party meeting convened by the Andhra Chief Minister earlier.

Meanwhile, Naidu also addressed members of Parliament of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) through tele-conferencing, saying he was “willing to bear any insult for the sake of people and the state”. He said, “I am asking for justice. Instead of giving that, the Centre and BJP are counter attacking us.”

The ruling TDP and the opposition YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) have found themselves on the same side of the demand for special status to Andhra Pradesh. The Assembly may be expected to unanimously pass a resolution formally making the demand to the Centre. It should be noted that while such resolutions are powerful tools for state governments, they are not binding on the Centre.

The all-party meet was held hours after the YSRCP announced that all of its MPs would resign their seats in the Lok Sabha at the end of the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament. The YSRCP also urged the Andhra Pradesh’s ruling TDP to also quit the Lok Sabha. YSRCP has 7 seats in the Lok Sabha and the TDP has 11.

Naidu’s TDP has had a fraught year in its relationship with the BJP and its coalition, the NDA, over the 2014 poll promise of granting special category status for Andhra Pradesh. The move was meant to ensure that the state would gain access to additional fund allocations from the Centre.

However, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that the Centre is unable special category status to Andhra Pradesh, since the category itself has been done away with under the 15th Finance Commission. He had however promised to make the same amount of Central money available to Andhra Pradesh.

This statement had pushed the TDP to pull out of the Union Cabinet and, a week later, withdraw from the ruling BJP-led NDA. The BJP’s ministers in the TDP-led Andhra Pradesh government had quit their posts in reciprocation. The move did not destabilise the NDA government.

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