Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday hit out at opposition parties for criticising him over the special category status for Andhra Pradesh, even as he called on them to exert pressure on the Centre on the issue. "Their criticism is meaningless. I am doing everything to secure special status for the state. I am constantly pursuing the issue with the Centre," Naidu said addressing a water conservation programme at Kurnool this evening.
Naidu asked the opposition parties also to apply pressure on the Centre over the special category status issue, which he said he was "pursuing relentlessly". "I visited New Delhi 30 times (in the last two years). I have been repeatedly pleading with the Centre to aid the state by all means as we have suffered heavily due to the bifurcation," Naidu said.
He reaffirmed that the onus was on the Centre to extend due financial assistance to AP, including bridging the Rs 16,000 crore revenue deficit caused due to the bifurcation. Naidu said the TDP aligned with the BJP only to safeguard the interests of the state. "Just imagine what would happen if we did not align with the BJP," he said, and took a dig at the opposition that had been demanding that the ruling party severe ties with the NDA. "If we listen to the opposition, we will only end up as the biggest losers," he remarked.
With some Union Ministers making it clear in Parliament that according special category status to AP was not possible, the opposition parties in the state have been demanding that the TDP pull out of the NDA. While leader of opposition Y S Jaganmohan Reddy alleged that the chief minister mortgaged the state's interests with the Centre, the Congress and the Left parties, which lost their moorings in the state, too, threatened an agitation over the special status issue.
In the last few days, Naidu had been raising the issue almost daily at every forum and reminding the Centre, particularly Prime Minister Narendra Modi, of the promise to grant special status to AP for "10 years" in the wake of the bifurcation. The opposition parties have also directed their ire at the BJP in general and Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu in particular for "ditching" the state on the special status.