The Andhra Pradesh unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday distanced itself from Union Minister of state for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale's remarks that the NDA would accept YSRCP into its fold.
Speaking to reporters, BJP national executive member and Visakhapatnam MP K Haribabu said that Athawale's remarks were his personal opinion and did not reflect the official stand of the ruling party at the Centre.
He also said that the BJP leadership had not discussed its strategy for the 2019 general elections and lashed out at the TDP for latching on to Athawale's comments.
“I don’t know why Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is scared of the BJP forming the next government. In fact, Mr. Naidu should explain why he is trying to get close to the Congress betraying the ideals on which NTR had founded the TDP. I also fail to understand on what ground he fears that the Centre will file cases against him,” Haribabu told reporters.
Haribabu was joined by MLA P Vishnu Kumar Raju, MLC PVN Madhav, and Visakhapatnam president M. Nagendra.
Athawale set off a controversy earlier this week after he appealed to the TDP to rejoin the NDA, failing which he said that the BJP could ally with YSRCP.
Speaking to reporters in Vijayawada after official meetings on SC/ST welfare initiatives, Athawale said, "Narendra Modi will again become the Prime Minister in 2019. Therefore, I appeal to Chandrababu Naidu, who is a strong leader, to rejoin the alliance. This is my suggestion and a request. If he does not join us, we will appeal to Jagan to be part of the NDA for the welfare of Andhra Pradesh...Jagan is not only strong but also popular in Andhra Pradesh."
When asked about the issue of Special Category Status (SCS), the Union Minister said that it was not possible to grant SCS to Andhra Pradesh, as other states would demand it as well. However, he said that the Centre was more than willing to help the state with more funds.
His comments had greatly irked the TDP, which had been alleging a political deal between the BJP and the YSRCP for several weeks.
Last month, the TDP pulled out of NDA to protest its refusal to give special status to the state. Naidu alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had gone back on the promises he made in 2014 elections.