Not pressuring for any post, priority is state finances, rebuilding Amaravati — Naidu after Delhi trip

Not pressuring for any post, priority is state finances, rebuilding Amaravati — Naidu after Delhi trip

New Delhi: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, whose Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is a key ally of the ruling NDA, has said he has three top priorities — to fix the state’s finances, reconstruct Amaravati as capital and get the Centre’s assistance to complete the multi-purpose irrigation project, Polavaram.

He said this after a two-day visit to Delhi during which he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his top cabinet colleagues including Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, seeking enhanced central funding for Andhra Pradesh.

Addressing reporters in the capital after a string of meetings with central ministers, Naidu made it clear that he was very much with the BJP on its coalition agenda and had no plans to create any trouble for the ruling combination.

Asked if his party would accept the Deputy Speaker’s post in the Lok Sabha if offered, Naidu clarified he had never asked for any post. “I have not asked for any position…we have never pressured. We are in a coalition and we will go by the coalition agenda,” he said.

He also steered clear of commenting on whether the NDA should have a common minimum programme. He said, “The BJP has its manifesto, we have our manifesto. BJP has spoken about their agenda and our agenda….”

Naidu’s TDP is the largest coalition partner of the NDA with 16 Lok Sabha MPs and is propping up the BJP which failed to get a majority on its own this term.

Also read: Can Naidu, Revanth finally settle Andhra-Telangana bifurcation issues? Bonhomie clear, meeting fixed

‘Difficult tax to fix state finances’

Blaming his predecessor Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy for “destroying” the state, the Andhra CM said it was a difficult task to fix its public finances. “My agenda is to rebuild and reconstruct,” he said.

Naidu reiterated that his priority was to get central help for Amaravati and Polavaram.

At his meeting with Sitharaman Friday, Naidu pressed for increased funds to Andhra Pradesh. A TDP source privy to the development said that Naidu gave a detailed memorandum on the state’s dire fiscal status while seeking central funds.

“The CM has sought funds for the Polavaram project, rebuilding capital Amaravati and also special assistance for backward regions,” the source added.

The public debt of Andhra Pradesh has increased from 31.02 percent of the gross state domestic product in 2019-20 to 33.32 percent in the 2023-24 fiscal, according to government data.

‘Jagan destroyed Amaravati’

Naidu blamed Jagan Mohan Reddy for “destroying” the Polavaram project. “He changed the contractor of the project soon after taking over as CM of the state despite being advised not to do so. Half of the diaphragm wall of the dam was washed away in the 2019 floods. It has not been repaired yet. Unless the diaphragm wall is repaired, construction can’t start on the main dam,” the CM said.

Diaphragm is the core of the main dam built to restrict seepage from upstream to downstream. The Polavaram project has been left hanging for 20 years now and Rs 21,000 crore has already been spent on it. “We have to now go step by step to complete the project,” Naidu said.

Asked about a timeframe for developing Amaravati, Naidu said it would take time. “Building a capital is a continuous process,” he added.

Nadu, who returned to Andhra Pradesh Friday said he would be meeting his Telangana counterpart Revanth Reddy tomorrow to sort out issues related to the state’s bifurcation in 2014.

“I was never a supporter of bifurcation…. We are the same people,” he said, adding that he was hopeful of sorting out all pending issues amicably with Reddy.

(Edited by Tikli Basu)

Also read: NDA allies get place in 5 cabinet committees, Shah remains 2nd most powerful minister after Modi


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