NEW DELHI: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu‘s fast to demand special status for the state, here on Monday, turned into a show of strength for the opposition parties, which attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for subverting India’s democracy and federal structure.
Prominent opposition leaders, including Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the venue of fast at the Andhra Bhavan here and endorsed the special status demand.
Sanjay Raut (MP) from Shiv Sena, a BJP ally also made a surprise appearance at Naidu’s ‘Dharma Porata Deeksha’ (day-long protest for justice). Shatrughan Sinha (BJP MP) and former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha also visited the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief.
Leading his party’s charge, Gandhi accused Modi of lying about granting special status to Andhra Pradesh and said the Prime Minister was left with no credibility.
“Modi lies wherever he goes. He went to Andhra Pradesh and lied about special status. He has absolutely no credibility left,” said Gandhi and also raked up the Rafale deal.
“The Prime Minister has stolen from the people from Andhra Pradesh and given that money to his crony,” he alleged.
Speaking on the occasion, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanded the Modi government fulfil the promise of special status to Andhra without any further loss of time.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Kejriwal called Modi a “world famous liar” and accused him of behaving like a Pakistani Prime Minister to subvert India’s federal structure.
“The Prime Minister at least thrice declared he would give special status to Andhra. He is world famous for lying. Whatever he says, he never fulfils,” Kejriwal said.
Attacking Modi over the CBI’s showdown with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Kejriwal accused him of behaving like a Pakistani Prime Minister.
“The way he treats state governments run by non-BJP parties looks as if he is the Prime Minister of Pakistan,” he said, and noted out how Modi had Delhi’s Anti-Corruption Branch seized by paramilitary forces.
Batting for opposition unity, Naidu accused the Centre of betrayal on the special status and claimed there is a threat to democracy and the country under the Modi regime.
“Modi is threatening everybody — opposition, bureaucracy, corporates and even the media. He is using the CBI, the ED and the IT Department to crush the opposition and dissent,” said Naidu.
“We want to save democracy. Today there is a democratic compulsion for all political parties to join together to save the country,” he said and blamed Modi for the falling standard of public discourse.
On the request of former Prime Minister and Janata Dal-Secular leader H.D. Deve Gowda, Naidu broke his fast later.
Sena Rajya Sabha member Raut also endorsed Naidu’s demands saying “commitment should be fulfilled first, politics later”.
Yashwant Sinha said the TDP will play an important role in government formation at the Centre after the Lok Sabha polls.
“It is unfortunate that the central government talks about cooperative federalism but does not believe in it. That’s why they keep doing injustice to states. We are confident in 3-4 months, the new government will come, which will give justice to Andhra,” he said.
Shatrughan Sinha also hit out Modi over the Rafale issue. “There are unanswered questions and if they remained unanswered, people will say ‘chowkidar hi chor hai’,” said the actor-turned politician. He also questioned Modi’s silence on the issue despite persistent attack by the opposition.
National Conference Farooq Abdullah called upon the opposition parties to remain united and steadfast and asserted the first thing the new government at the Centre will do is granting special status to Andhra.
Deve Gowda said the promises regarding Andhra’s reorganisation made by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the floor of the House cannot be prevented by anyone.
“It is the responsibility of the incoming governments to carry out decisions taken by the previous government… I anticipate future government, whoever heads it, is certainly going to fulfil the promise made by Manmohan Singh,” he said.
Nationalist Congress Party’s Majeed Memon, Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’ Brien, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, and Loktantrik Janata Dal’s Sharad Yadav also visited Naidu.
This is the second time that the opposition have came together to present a united front against the Modi-led BJP. On January 19, leaders of 23 national and regional parties descended on Kolkata for a rally and pledged to work together to prevent the BJP retaining power.