Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s day-long fast on Monday demanding Special Status for his State became a rallying point for the Opposition parties.
Those who met Naidu and addressed the gathering at Andhra Pradesh Bhawan were Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, National Conference chairperson Farooq Abdullah, NCP’s Majeed Memon, Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’ Brien, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, Loktantrik Janata Dal’s Sharad Yadav, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut also made a surprise appearance at Naidu’s protest. Raut said he came to attend the event as a representative of the Shiv Sena, amid strains with senior ally BJP. Naidu ended his fast at 8.20 pm, accepting a glass of juice from JD(S) supremo and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda. This was the second time in less than a month when Opposition members presented a united front against the Narendra Modi Government.
The last time when the Opposition came together the same way was on January 19, when 22 Opposition parties supported West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a massive show of strength in Brigade ground in Kolkata.
Naidu, who left NDA as an alliance partner last March, is demanding that the Centre fulfil promises made during Andhra Pradesh’s bifurcation in 2014. Naidu has been trying to unite the Opposition parties to take on the BJP in the general elections. Over the last three months, he has held a number of meetings with the Opposition party leaders on forming an anti-BJP front.
Naidu’s ‘Dharma Porata Deeksha’ (a day-long protest for justice), began at 8 am and ended at 8 pm. The Andhra CM is scheduled to submit a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday.
“(Former PM) Atal Bihari Vajpayee said “Raj Dharma’’ was not followed in Gujarat (during the 2002 riots). Now, “Raj Dharma” is not being followed in the case of Andhra Pradesh. We have been denied what is rightfully ours. If you don’t get it done, we know how to get it done,” Naidu said.
Former Prime Minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee had referred to “Raj Dharma” to remind then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of his duty during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Extending his support to the cause of Andhra Pradesh, Manmohan Singh said the demand had support of all parties when it was discussed in Parliament. “I stand in solidarity with Naidu,” Singh, who headed the UPA government at the Centre when Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated, said.
He said the special category status promise must be implemented without any further delay and that he had always stood by the people of the state.
Addressing the protestors Rahul Gandhi alleged that the prime minister has stolen from the people from Andhra Pradesh and he has given that money to his industrialist friend Anil Ambani. “That is the fact of the matter,” Rahul said in an apparent reference to the Rafale fighter jet deal with France.
Derek O’Brien recalled Modi’s speech in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, on Sunday and said he didn’t talk about development or special category status but “started a personal attack”. “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others…BC is before chaiwala and AD is after dhoka…Modi has lost all his allies and formed a new ally in CBI,” he alleged.
The PM in his rally had remarked that Naidu was a senior, but only in losing elections, switching alliances and ditching his father-in-law, N T Rama Rao.
Lashing out at the prime minister, Abdullah said, “Modi has stooped so low. He’s making personal attacks against Naidu, who is doing great service for the country.” “The Jammu-Srinagar highway is closed for six days. They cannot clear the 30km road, but they want to rule the country,” he added.
While Memon alleged that the Central government was meting out step motherly treatment to the state and the BJP was attacking Naidu because he has taken the lead in uniting rival parties against it, Mulayam Singh Yadav said even though he not well but came to endorse Naidu’s stand.
Stating that Naidu was fighting for a just cause, DMK leader Siva said the Modi government would be ousted in three months. Loktantrik Janata Dal chief Sharad Yadav blamed the Modi government for unemployment, joblessness which he said were a result of demonetization.
Former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Gegong Apang, Congress leaders Anand Sharma, Ahmed Patel, Jairam Ramesh too shared dias with Naidu. Kejriwal hit out at the prime minister over the alleged mistreatment meted out to states being run by governments of opposition parties. Former MP CM Digvijay Singh too joined Naidu in his fast protest.
Tuesday, 12 February 2019 | PNS | New Delhi
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