Sore NDA allies hit out at govt in show of unity

The Lower House saw two brief adjournments in the afternoon and once during Question Hour owing to the protests.

New Delhi: It was a day of NDA allies rising against the Narendra Modi government in Parliament. While Telugu Desam Party MPs created a ruckus and marred the proceedings in both Houses on Tuesday, claiming the Union Budget didn’t offer anything to Andhra Pradesh and that the Centre had failed to grant a special status or package to the state, the Shiv Sena attacked the government for ignoring its allies and said the Assembly election results in Gujarat and the byelection results in Rajasthan should be a “wakeup call” for the Centre.

Vociferous protests by members of NDA ally TDP and the YSR Congress (the principal Opposition party in the Andhra Assembly) marred proceedings in the Lok Sabha as the government termed these demands as “very sensitive” and pledged that they would be looked into.

The Lower House saw two brief adjournments in the afternoon and once during Question Hour owing to the protests. In the Rajya Sabha too, the TDP MPs were seen standing in the Well of the House, holding placards and banners. Despite finance minister Arun Jaitley’s pledge in the Upper House that an alternative mechanism could be worked out to look into their demand for a special package, the agitating MPs could not be convinced.

Later, while participating in the discussion on the motion of thanks on the President’s address, Shiv Sena MP Anandrao Adsul, reminding the government about its
slogan “Sabka saath sabka vikas”, said it does not bode well if members of one’s own family are ignored and not taken into confidence.

Citing several examples from the Centre’s schemes like Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana and the skill development programme, Mr Adsul said while the intent of the programmes were good, there was nothing to show on the ground in terms of their implementation.

He was also scathing about how demonetisation had dented the country’s economy and adversely affected all small businesses.

The Shiv Sena MP from Amravati urged the government that it should do some introspection and actually act on the principle of “Sabka saath sabka vikas”. Mentioning the Gujarat poll results (where the BJP just managed to form the government) and the BJP’s loss in byelections in Rajasthan, the Shiv Sena MP said that this itself shows what could happen in future.

Earlier, MPs from both the TDP and YSR Congress entered the Well as soon as the proceedings began. Holding placards and banners seeking special status for Andhra Pradesh, completion of the Polavaram project and demanding a special railway zone for the bifurcated state, the TDP and YSR Congress members shouted slogans against the NDA like “We want justice” and “Andhra ke dard ko samjh lo, samjh lo” (Understand the pain of Andhra Pradesh), “We demand special status for AP state” and “Announce railway zone now”.

The ties between the TDP and the BJP are strained, with the TDP publicly expressing unhappiness at the Budget not offering any special benefits to Andhra Pradesh.

One TDP MP also brought a “chimti” and a “khartal”, a musical instrument that chimes, and was seen presenting his party’s demands by singing a bhajan, chanting “Jai Govinda, Jai Gopala”. The YSR Congress also joined the protests in the Well, but maintained a distance from the TDP members.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan repeatedly lost her cool over the agitating MPs, and even threatened to name all of them. Once she even shouted at one TDP MP who was trying to block her view with a placard, saying: “Do you want me to hold the banner?”

Later in the afternoon, after home minister Rajnath Singh assured them that the government would look into their demands, the agitating MPs returned to their seats.

However, while participating in the discussion on the motion of thanks on the President’s address, TDP MP Thota Narasimham said that owing to the unscientific bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the state was facing a revenue deficit of Rs 16,000 crores, and on top of it, the Budget presented by finance minister Arun Jaitley for 2018-19 offered no hope for the state.

Expressing disappointment over the non-fulfiment of several promises by the Centre like giving a special economic package, timely completion of the Polavaram project and setting up a new railway zone in the bifurcated state, Mr Narasimham said due to repeated breach of promises by the Centre and its lack of political will, the people of Andhra Pradesh felt “dejected”.

YSR Congress’ Midhun Reddy also lamented the fact that due to Andhra Pradesh having no capital city of its own and being saddled with financial debt, investors were shying away from the state. Moreover, he added, the state was also facing a drought, which had made the situation all the more difficult.

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