Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s key ally, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, has demanded substantial financial support from the Centre to help “reconstruct” the southern State which is facing acute fiscal challenges and stalled infrastructure projects. Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has 16 Lok Sabha MPs supporting the Narendra Modi-led government. 

The contours of the financial aid — estimated in aggregate to be over ₹1-lakh crore — came up for discussion at different meetings that Naidu had with Central ministers on Friday. Naidu met Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at North Block on Friday and he had separate meetings with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the BJP President, and Health Minister J. P. Nadda. He has also met the Chairman of the 16th Finance Commission, Arvind Panagariya, six other Union Ministers, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his ongoing visit to the Capital. The six ministers were Amit Shah, Union Home Minister; Nitin Gadkari, Road Transport and Highways Minister; Piyush Goyal, Commerce Minister; Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Agriculture Minister and Hardeep Singh Puri, Petroleum Minister.  

These are crucial meetings ahead of the first Budget of the Modi 3.0 government in the third week of this month. 

At the meeting with Sitharaman, the TDP Chief presented a detailed memorandum on the State’s precarious financial position and the rationale behind the demand for the Centre to handhold State Finances in the short term.

Key demands
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu meets Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in New Delhi on Friday.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu meets Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in New Delhi on Friday. | Photo Credit: ANI

Among Naidu’s key demands are allowing Andhra Pradesh to borrow more by raising the fiscal deficit ceiling of 3 per cent of State Gross Domestic Product (GSDP) to the tune of 0.5 per cent this financial year, capital support of about ₹50,000 crore to build new capital at Amaravati, and a commitment of ₹12,000 crore for the Polavaram irrigation project. 

Naidu is also understood to have sought the Centre’s support in Andhra Pradesh for the development of Duggirajupatnam Port. 

Naidu has argued  for an additional allocation under the Scheme for Special Assistance to States for capital investment, targeting essential sectors such as roads, bridges, irrigation, and drinking water projects. The AP Chief Minister also wants support for the backward regions of Andhra Pradesh on the lines of the Bundelkhand package.

More oil refineries

During his meeting with Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Naidu made a case for more oil refineries to be located in Andhra Pradesh.

“We will work with the goal of rebuilding Andhra Pradesh in five years. We will bring investments to Andhra Pradesh. The State has suffered irreparable damage in the last five years,” Naidu told media after he met with Sitharaman.

The focus was clearly on monetary assistance as the BJP has not parted with crucial Cabinet posts or the Deputy Speaker’s post for its southern ally.

“We are happy with the ministers given to us. No posts were expected from the Centre … no demands were made for posts. They did not ask for the post of Deputy Speaker …they did not want to give it,” said a TDP source. Naidu met with media persons before concluding his two-day visit to the Capital, his first after assuming charge as AP Chief Minister.

During the meeting with the Home Minister, Naidu, who has been vocal about the State’s financial distress, raised issues arising  from the Andhra Pradesh bifurcation and sought resolutions for pending issues.

Meanwhile, TDP sources said that the State Government  will complete the permanent assembly, secretariat, and high court buildings in the next five years.

Naidu also assured domestic and global investors that his government would make every effort to create a business friendly environment in the State.

Interacting with the media at the end of his visit, Naidu also said that he will attend the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos to invite investors to the State and speed up its economic resurgence.

On inter-state relations, Naidu referred to an upcoming meeting with Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy on July 7. “We will work in the interest of both States”, Naidu said.