Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said a united opposition can force the Narendra Modi government to give a special financial package to Andhra Pradesh to compensate for the losses it suffered following the state's division in 2014.
At an unscheduled appearance at a protest gathering in New Delhi, Gandhi said the Congress, if voted to power in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, would accord the state the central government package as promised after Telangana was created out of an undivided Andhra.
The protest was organised by MPs from Andhra Pradesh at Jantar Mantar in the heart of Delhi where other parties, including the Left and YSR Congress, were also demonstrating and seeking a special category status for the state.
"This afternoon, I joined the protests at Jantar Mantar demanding 'Special Status' for Andhra Pradesh. It is my belief that if the opposition stands united on this issue, we can force the BJP government to do justice to the people of Andhra," Gandhi tweeted.
At the venue, the Congress President said: "I am confident that if we stand together, we will convince the government and (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi that what is due to the people of Andhra Pradesh should be given to them, at once."
Gandhi said that if his party came to power in 2019, the first thing his government would do is give special category status to Andhra.
"We are with the people of Andhra. Our stance has been very very clear. We are for special category status of Andhra," Gandhi said.
Gandhi attended the protest which was organised by Andhra Pradesh Congress workers. A Congress leader said Gandhi's appearance at the protest was not planned.
He was in Parliament till the afternoon and also participated in a demonstration outside Parliament House against the Punjab National Bank fraud involving fugitive jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
Another protest on the Andhra issue was organised by the Left parties at Jantar Mantar which was attended by leaders of YSR Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Meanwhile, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MPs also staged a protest near Mahatma Gandhi statue in Parliament House demanding Special Category Status for Andhra Pradesh.