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BJP does not want A.P. to become number one: Chandrababu Naidu

Brimming with confidence, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu says he will return to power with a thumping majority in the 2019 Assembly election on the strength of his “dedicated service” and his “all-round achievements”. “Otherwise, there is no meaning to politics, the main objective of which is to serve people sincerely, or else do you expect a tainted person accused in a plethora of cases who still appears in the CBI court every Friday to form a government,” he says in a hint at his rival, YSRCP president and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy. Excerpts:

Now that you have walked out of the NDA, don’t you think funds would be a problem for projects such as developing a new capital city and Polavaram?
We will face these challenges. The Centre is duty-bound to do hand-holding and help the State in tune with the A.P. Reorganisation Act. We are sticking to what was promised in the Act after illogical and irrational bifurcation left the State nothing. It is because of our hard work that it is slowly recovering.

You keep making the charge that the Union government is discriminating against Andhra Pradesh? What could be the motive ?
The BJP simply does not want Andhra Pradesh to become the number one State in all development parameters and Naidu getting credit. With such evil intention, it started denying funds and then opened a channel of communication with our rival, YSRCP. It became obvious. Look at the way it is still not accepting resignations submitted by YSRCP MPs.

The BJP is failing to understand the sentiments of the people. By doing so, it is repeating the mistakes of the Congress that led to trouble in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Assam. Two Prime Ministers lost their lives owing to such strong sentiments. If people are holding black flags against the Prime Minister, the party in power in Delhi needs to pay attention.

It is not honouring the spirit of cooperative federalism and failed miserably in steadying the economy. If it is doing well, the economy should have grown at a much higher level and not at 6% or 7%.

Given the challenges posed by the political rivals, YSRCP, Jana Sena, BJP and Congress, how do you rate the chances of Telugu Desam coming to power in Andhra Pradesh in 2019 ?
We are not facing any big challenge from the rival political parties. We will return to power with a thumping majority. If we can’t, there is no meaning to politics, allowing a person accused in a slew of CBI cases to assume power.

The BJP and the YSRCP accuse you of taking a U-turn on Special Category Status?
There is no U-turn. I am on the right track. When the people’s overriding sentiment is in favour of the SCS, we have to respect and work towards achieving the demand.

What were your big achievements during the past four years?
I have given a lot of importance to both welfare and development. There is saturation coverage may it be pensions or scholarships for SCs, STs and BCs. Farmers were extended debt redemption [crop loan waiver] spending a whopping ₹24,000 crore. Self-help women groups were given similar benefit of ₹10,000 crore. In farming ,we have brought in this zero-budget natural farming.

All villages will have cement concrete roads in a year. Yet we attained a double digit growth in the economy of over 10%. People are happy and satisfied. We have attracted manufacturing industries to Rayalaseema like Kia Motors and Hero, while an Ashok Leyland unit is being set up in Vijayawada in Andhra. The Ambani brothers have come with their investment offers, while Bill Gates had visited Visakhapatnam. HCL’s Shiv Nadar has promised a lot of investment.

How do you explain the delay in capital city works?
I don’t think there is delay. It is a massive project and we need to plan it with contemporary thoughts of a world class vibrant capital city. Land pooling involving 33,000 acres took a year. The master plan took some time while initial designs given by a Japanese firm for building of Assembly, Secretariat, High Court were not so good and they had to be rejected.

Now the London-based Foster and Partners have done a good job of designing these buildings.

Work has picked up pace with roads being laid and tenders called for these public buildings.

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