Politics
A government order sanctioned an additional amount of Rs 10 crore for the welfare of protesters, on top of an earlier sanctioned Rs 1.12 crore.
Image: Facebook/Telugu Desam Party

Even as it came to light that the Andhra Pradesh government spent Rs 1.12 crore from the state exchequer to transport protesters in two special trains to New Delhi for a one-day fast led by Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, a new Government Order has revealed that the protest may have cost the state a lot more.

The GO dated number 215 and issued by the Finance Department, sanctioned an additional amount of Rs 10 crore for the welfare of the protestors, taking the total bill of the protest organized by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government to Rs 11.12 crore.

The GO was signed by Ravi Chandra Muddada, secretary to the government (expenditure) and was also uploaded on an official website of the state.

However, in a clarification, the Andhra Pradesh government claimed that only Rs 2 crore was spent on the protest and the remaining amount was for ‘other state functions’.

“The Budget Release Order (BRO) issued refers to provision of Rs 8 crore for Other State Functions and only Rs 2 crore for Deeksha. The opening para mentions the same and the allocation is also made as such in the table. It is further clarified that out of provision of Rs 2 crores, GAD has issued about Rs 1.23 crores - 3 bills amounting to Rs 1.12 crore, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1.3 lakh only. Remaining amount of Rs 77 lakh is a provision for any final bills,” the clarification stated.

The previous Government Order dated February 6 issued by Srikant Nagulapalli, the secretary to the government stated, "Government of Andhra Pradesh have decided to hire two (2) special trains with 20 compartments each from South Central Railways, Secunderabad, i.e., starting one (1) train from Ananthapuramu and another from Srikakulam to reach New Delhi by 10.02.2019 to transport interested political parties, organisations, NGOs associations, etc. to participate in one day Deeksha (Protest) at New Delhi on 11.02.2019 to be led by the Chief Minister.”  

Naidu's fast to demand special status for the state in New Delhi on Monday, turned into a show of strength for the opposition parties, which attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ‘subverting India's democracy and federal structure.’

Prominent opposition leaders, including Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the venue of fast at the Andhra Bhavan and endorsed the special status demand.

While Shiv Sena, a BJP ally, sent Sanjay Raut (MP), Shatrughan Sinha (BJP MP) and former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha also visited the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief.

Leading his party's charge, Gandhi accused Modi of lying about granting special status to Andhra Pradesh and said the prime minister was left with no credibility.

"Modi lies wherever he goes. He went to Andhra Pradesh and lied about special status. He has absolutely no credibility left," said Gandhi and also raked up the Rafale deal.

"The prime minister has stolen from the people from Andhra Pradesh and given that money to his crony," he alleged.

Speaking on the occasion, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanded the Modi government fulfil the promise of special status to Andhra without any further loss of time.

"Modi is threatening everybody -- opposition, bureaucracy, corporates and even the media. He is using the CBI, the ED and the IT Department to crush the opposition and dissent," said Naidu, adding, “We want to save democracy. Today there is a democratic compulsion for all political parties to join together to save the country."

(With IANS inputs)