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Having quit NDA, many feel you could still do business with BJP after 2019. Is it true?
I am fighting for my state. Congress did injustice by bifurcating the state. Andhra faced humiliation, because of which we went for an alliance with BJP. In four years, I have visited Delhi 29 times, represented everything to everybody … still the Centre has been delaying things, for reasons we do not know. I waited till the last budget. Assurances to follow up on the Bifurcation Act were given on the floor of the House. PM Modi had five years to deliver on that … they did not do it, how will they do it any time in the future.
Will Delhi see more of you now that you are making new political friends?
I am seeking justice and Delhi is the place for that. I will keep visiting to put pressure on the Centre.
Animosity between the BJP and TDP has grown since Amit Shah’s letter to you?
I get the feeling they will try to create more problems for the state.
What about Amit Shah’s letter?
What I am fighting for in the last few days is genuine and they (BJP) are trying to suppress the real reasons. Why is BJP working with other allies while still in alliance with TDP? How can you shield them (YSRCP)… only because they are vulnerable they will be under your control … that is how this party works. So, on the other hand a nine–page letter to malign me, my party and my state, when they (Centre) are ones who did not deliver. I have done everything ethically. I told the PM, then withdrew. Called him, he did not take the call, called back next day, then said he will look into it and never got back. Doors were closed by Arun Jaitley when the finance minister announced there will be no special status. I said you have given it to 11 states, then why not Andhra?
The letter seems to have made you angry. How many times did the PM refuse to meet you?
I have 40 years of experience in politics, I am a senior chief minister … have been there for long … one of the senior-most politicians today. Is this the way to treat people? I am worried about my state, not about how many times PM met me.
You met opposition party leaders. Will you do business with Congress?
I am here to ask for justice for Andhra, don’t want to talk politics at this stage. It is responsibility of all parties who passed that bifurcation act to review what they passed and what has they delivered. All parties, national parties, even Congress, gave assurances five years back … the same parties were there then … it is a national obligation for all of them so we want to build a pressure for that. All parties I spoke to, supported us, only the government is playing politics and avoiding the real issue. Why? Centre has to say what it has done … instead they are diverting attention and attacking the state.
BJP is going with YSRCP and it is your main rival in the state?
Issue is I am the chief minister today. Last time also YSR Congress was there but people stood behind me because of my earlier track record. BJP has nothing in Andhra, the present government at the Centre feels YRS Congress is supporting them, it went with them for the presidential and vice presidential elections. Hence they (BJP) are aligning with criminals so that they can be used.
So, TDP is officially in the opposition camp now?
I am seeking assurances on genuine ground from the Centre. What is credibility of a leader (implying PM)? Now people in Andhra think Centre is cheating them. It is not good.
Politics and development are interlinked … I am fighting for Andhra’s case now, before it is settled I cannot speak about it (joining the Opposition camp). Also, I have to convince the nation, for that I need to convince political parties and the media about the injustice they (Centre) have done. Even NDA partners are concerned.
Why are you blaming the Centre?
PM had said Amravati will have to be built even better than Delhi and then Centre gave us Rs 1500 crore for it. PM even told me you should look at Astana (capital of Kazhakistan) … They (present regime at the Centre) don’t have that kind of heart. PM would have got a good name … they wanted to create a dream capital, now they are dreaming. I created Secundrabad… In 2005, PM Manmohan Singh claimed credit for it in the US because he felt proud of it. All our cities small towns, we need a big city for development. For 4 years we gave (10.5 %) highest growth in the country even with our constraints.
What will be your poll plank in 2019?
Development and welfare. We are number one despite all these problems but our base is very low because of bifurcation. In South India it is the lowest, why should Andhra be penalised?