“Have you ever seen a Prime Minister going on hunger strike in the history of the country? He is trying to blame it on the people of the state for his inability to run the Parliament. He is trying to instigate his party cadre against us and gain political mileage."
These were the words of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, in response to PM Narendra Modi’s one-day fast over the Parliament being stalled.
These are the same words that are returning to taunt Naidu, as opposition leaders have questioned his move to conduct a day-long fast on Friday demanding Special Category Status (SCS) for Andhra Pradesh.
The TDP President is staging the protest on his 68th birthday to pressurise the Centre to fulfill all commitments made during bifurcation, and the fast has been dubbed ‘Dharma Porata Deeksha’ (Fight for Justice).
Recently, when a one-day shutdown was called by the Pratyeka Hoda Vibhajana Hameela Sadhana Samithi and was backed by the Left parties, chief opposition YSR Congress party, and actor-politician Pawan Kalyan's Jana Sena party, the TDP had said that the move would be counter-productive as it would only harm the state’s interests.
However, with Naidu and the TDP organising a day-long protest, opposition parties in the state have accused the CM of ‘hypocrisy’.
Speaking to TNM, Congress spokesperson Kolanukonda Sivaji dubbed Naidu’s fast a ‘drama’ and said that he was playing to the gallery.
"If he really wants to confront Modi, he should go and do the same in Delhi," he said.
Continuing the tirade, the Congress leader questioned Naidu on his ‘dual role’.
“On one hand you will sit on a fast in protest, but on the other side, you will silence any dissent within the state,” he said.
The Congress demanded that Naidu should take an all-party delegation to New Delhi and ‘expose’ Modi at a national level.
The main opposition YSRCP has also lashed out at the Andhra CM.
Speaking to TNM, YSRCP MLA Gadikota Sreekanth Reddy MLA said, "He (Naidu) doesn't do anything which will favour the state. Instead, he is diverting attention as he is unable to digest the people’s support for the SCS movement."
Alleging that Naidu has a secret affair with the BJP, Sreekanth alleged that public money was being spent on Naidu’s fast, and termed it ‘event management’.
While stating that no one will trust Naidu’s past, the YSRCP leader also said that it will divert the attention from the people’s movement, to the Chief Minister.
However, coming to the CM’s defense, senior TDP MLA Gorantla Buchaya Chowdary hit back at opposition parties saying, "They don't have any moral right to criticise Naidu."
“This protest is against Modi, who betrayed the state. He used AIDMK to obstruct the House so that no debate could take place on the no-confidence motion that we moved in Parliament. The YSRCP is making false claims. In fact, they are eager to forge an alliance with Modi," he added.
Dr Pentapati Pulla Rao, a senior political observer said that Naidu's fast could only grab eyeballs but was unlikely to fetch anything for the state.
“Due to his U-turns, people are likely to have lost trust in him, which can only damage the party," Rao said.
However, he added that Naidu’s party stepping down from their posts in the Central government and protesting could be beneficial and help in pressurising the Centre.