If the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s one-day long hunger strike in Delhi did indeed cause the state exchequer a whopping Rs 11 crore, protests are becoming an expensive affair. The state government reportedly released an order on February 6 allocating Rs 11.12 crore as part of the protest expenditure. The state government booked two special trains with twenty coaches each to ferry those attending the protest. The government reportedly sanctioned Rs 1.2 crore for the same and released another Rs 10 crore for “meeting the expenditure of the one-day protest in New Delhi." Around 1100 rooms were also booked for those attending the protest.
"Government of Andhra Pradesh has decided to hire two 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," stated the government release.
The government order stated that the money was to be spent on "transportation of participants from different regions of Andhra Pradesh" and "payments of other bills".
Screenshot of government release
However, according to India Today, the ruling Telugu Desam Party on Tuesday clarified that only Rs 2 crore was spent for the protest and that the Budget Release Order refers to the provision of Rs 8 crore for other state functions. It also said that the party has been organising 'Dharma Porata Deeksha' across the state since 2017 demanding a special category status, therefore, the protest was not a political function.
Addressing a public gathering in the state's Guntur region on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi questioned the source of the money that was being spent on organising the protest.
Bharatiya Janata Party MP GVL Narasimha Rao alleged that Naidu was organising fake 'deekshas' by misusing public money, reported The New Indian Express.
During the one-day hunger strike, Naidu alleged that Modi was not following 'raj dharma' by denying the state special status and reminded the Centre of its promises made in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014.