TDP leaders were meeting Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal at Rail Bhavan in New Delhi for a discussion when the ruckus broke out.

Watch Ruckus in Delhi as TDP leaders meet union minister over Vizag Railway ZoneScreenshot
news Politics Wednesday, August 08, 2018 - 13:06

A bitter spat broke out on camera between senior TDP leaders and BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao during a discussion at Rail Bhavan in New Delhi on granting a separate rail zone for Andhra Pradesh with its headquarters at Visakhapatnam.

The TDP’s official Facebook page posted a video of the incident, with the message, “When TDP MPs and MLAs met Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal to demand Railway Zone for Vizag, GVL Narasimha Rao interfered even as the Minister began to reply to questions posed to him. The whole issue of Railway Zone was conveniently sidetracked and the Minister was sent away citing security concerns.”

The TDP post goes on to say: “Even if BJP has decided to backstab the people who have trusted them, what happened to Telugu BJP MPs GVL and Haribabu? Why are they selling their souls to the devil for a seat in the parliament? Shame on them! (sic)”

The video shows several senior leaders getting up from their seats and shouting at each other even as some MPs try to diffuse the situation.

While it is unclear as to what triggered the war of words, at one point a TDP leader can be heard telling GVL, “Why are you answering on the Minister’s behalf? You are an MP from UP and nowhere related to Andhra.”

As the situation escalates, the MPs can be seen shouting at each other even as more phones are brought out by those present at the meeting to film the incident. Unable to break the deadlock, Piyush Goyal later left the venue.

Watch the video below.

The TDP MPs and MLAs then staged a protest outside the meeting hall, stating that the railway zone was a right that was promised to them during bifurcation of the state.

“It is an irresponsible and disheartening response to a long-time demand. We even told them that this was about the people’s sentiments. We will continue to protest and demand what is rightfully ours,” TDP MP Avanthi Srinivas told the local media.

Meanwhile, speaking at the meeting, Goyal had said, “Schedule 13 of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act says that this promise has to be completed in 10 years. In the schedule, it says that the Centre has to examine the viability of the railway zone. It may take 1 month or 6 months but today, in 160 years, the Railways has not established any zone on the basis of state. This will be the first of its kind.”

“I’m continuing discussions with officials and we are reexamining to see what can be a practical solution and how,” he added.

The TDP, however, did not receive the statement too well and also continued to hit out at GVL. 

Taking a jibe at the BJP spokesperson, former Aviation Minister Gajapathi Raju told reporters, “Bringing someone unrelated to Andhra to the meeting is not right. The Minister said that the Act has given them 10 years, but that doesn’t mean that they will examine the feasibility and viability for a decade.”

TDP MP Rammohan Naidu said, “GVL is not an MP related to Andhra. Why was he there in the meeting? They have given a chance to someone who is always trying to hinder the state’s progress. We condemn this.”

Last week, GVL moved a ‘Breach of Privilege’ notice against two TDP leaders, among others, claiming that they had issued a public threat of ‘dire consequences’.

Read: ‘TDP threatened me publicly’: BJP MP GVL Narasimha Rao moves privilege notice in RS

Background

The demand for a separate zone, with its headquarters at Visakhapatnam, is often clubbed with protests for granting Special Category Status to Andhra. Many along Andhra’s northern coast have reiterated the demand.

The separate railway zone for Andhra Pradesh was included in the 13th Schedule of the AP Reorganisation Act. The state government had suggested that the railway zone could be established by clubbing Waltair, Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal divisions.

In March this year, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba said that feasibility reports and the Railway Board were not in favour of a new railway zone for the state, which had triggered protests.

Andhra Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has also assured his state several times that a railway zone would definitely be established with its headquarters at Visakhapatnam.

 

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