Demanding justice for Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Monday began a 12-hour-long fast here with an attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi dubbing him "totally imbalanced". A day after Modi addressed a rally in Andhra Pradesh and attacked Naidu, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) President began his fast in the national capital demanding that the Centre accord Special Category Status (SCS) and fulfil other commitments made in the Reorganisation Act during the state's bifurcation in 2014.
Clad in a black shirt to protest the raw deal meted out to the state, Naidu began the 'Dharma Porata Deeksha' at the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan in New Delhi. "Modi came to Guntur yesterday (Sunday). He spent so much of time and so much energy to attack and criticise me but not to solve any problem. This is where you are totally imbalanced," he said.
Naidu said his protest was against the injustice done to the state, to remind the Centre of its promises and to demonstrate the strength of Andhra Pradesh.
Warning the Prime Minister to stop his attacks, Naidu said he should act immediately to fulfil the commitments as only "two days were left". He was apparently referring to ongoing Parliament session, which could be the last session before the Lok Sabha elections.
"If you don't fulfil the promises you have made, we know how to get it done. This is a matter of self-respect for the people of Andhra. We know how to earn money but whenever somebody hits our self-respect we don't tolerate. This has been proven in the past," Naidu said.
He also warned that if the government failed to fulfil the promises, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would face a permanent boycott in Andhra Pradesh.
Naidu recalled that when then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced the SCS for five years, then BJP leaders in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitely and Venkaiah Naidu had insisted for a period of 10 years.
He said Modi at every election rally promised to accord the SCS and claimed that based on this promise TDP had an alliance with the BJP.
The Chief Minister said the Centre had failed to implement the provisions of Bifurcation Act, including funds to bridge the revenue deficit, railway zone in Visakhapatnam, steel plant in Kadapa and petrochemical corridor. He said the Centre provided only Rs 1,500 crore for development of state capital Amaravati while it was estimated that Rs 5 lakh crore were required over 20 years to build a capital on par with Hyderabad.
Earlier, Naidu along with other TDP leaders paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat and garlanded the statue of BR Ambedkar before launching the protest. Naidu's cabinet colleagues, MPs, state legislators and leaders of student and employees groups and mass organisations were sitting with him on the fast.
A large number of protesters have also joined Naidu. They reached the national capital by two special trains hired by the state government.
Leaders of several non-BJP parties also met with Naidu and expressed their solidarity including National Conference's Farooq Abdullah and NCP's Majeed Memon besides Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
Claiming that Modi had "no credibility" left, Rahul Gandhi said, "I stand with the people of Andhra Pradesh. What kind of a Prime Minister is he?"
Stepping up attack on the Prime Minister, the Congress leader said: "He (Modi) did not fulfil the commitment made to the people of Andhra. Modi tells a lie wherever he goes. He goes to the northeast tells lies; goes to Maharashtra and lies -- He has absolutely no credibility left."
Rahul Gandhi asserted that the Prime Minister has only months left in office as the opposition were going to show him the sentiment of the people.
"Remember one thing he has few months left, one or two months, the opposition parties are going to show Modi exactly what the nation's sentiment is," he added.
Naidu is expected to end his fast at 8 pm on Monday, following which he will address the gathering.