Under relentless opposition attack over its failure to secure special category state status for Andhra Pradesh, the state's ruling TDP today pulled out of the Modi government but kept a window open for rapprochement by deciding to remain part of the NDA.
However, there was no official word yet on whether the letters were forwarded to the President for acceptance, setting off speculation that back channel talks might still be on to thrash out a compromise formula.
The resignation by the Union ministers followed a 20-minute talk between Telugu Desam Party boss and chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and the prime minister which apparently failed to remove irritants plaguing the TDP's ties with the government.
In a tit-for-tat action, the two BJP ministers in the Naidu government--K Srinivasa Rao and T Manikyala Rao--too quit.
The TDP has 16 members in the Lok Sabha and is the third largest constituent of the NDA in the House after Shiv Sena, which has 18 MPs. The Sena has also been at loggerheads with the BJP, and often cried neglect by the senior partner. It, however, continues to share power with the BJP both at the Centre and in Maharashtra.
Naidu had late yesterday night announced his ministers will pull out of the NDA government, a decision he termed as "painful but in the interest of the state".
The announcement came amid widening rift between the TDP and the Modi government over special category status for the state.
Naidu himself described Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's press conference in the national capital yesterday where he said funds equivalent to what a special category state receives would be extended to Andhra Pradesh but rejected the TDP's demand for special category status as the proverbial "last straw".
Addressing reporters after tendering their resignation, Raju said the TDP will continue to be a part of the Centre's ruling alliance.
Chowdary said the issue of special category status was very emotive for the state but the Centre did not address it, and added that even the special package was not adequate.
Reacting to the development, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar claimed in New Delhi "political pressure" and "false propaganda" by the main opposition YSR Congress and other parties on the issue of special status might have forced Naidu's hand.
"The TDP has demanded special status. We are discussing with them.... Unfortunately, YSR Congress and other parties are indulging in all sorts of false propaganda, spoiling the political atmosphere in the state and putting pressure on Chandrababu Naidu," Kumar told reporters.
The BJP sees the resignation of the two TDP ministers as an inevitable outcome of the regional party's "political compulsions" ahead of the Assembly polls next year which will take place with general elections.
The BJP, which has two Lok Sabha members from the state that sends 25 MPs to the House, is not overly worried about the prospect of contesting elections without an ally, and even hopes to emerge as a "significant political force".
"The BJP has the potential to emerge as a third viable alternative in Andhra Pradesh and our track record in different states testify to this. We will continue to work for the people there to become a significant political force," its spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said.
Some BJP leaders said, in the event of the TDP finally walking out of the NDA, the saffron party may find an ally in the YSR Congress, which has been a friendly party in Parliament.
Jaitley had said yesterday that giving special category status, as demanded by Naidu, to any state apart from those in the North-East and three hill provinces was not constitutionally possible after the implementation of the 14th Finance Commission recommendations.
For special category status category states, the Centre meets 90 per cent of the funds required in a centrally sponsored scheme as against 60 per cent in case of normal category states. The remaining funds are provided by the state governments.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)