Raghuveera Asks Naidu, Jagan To Set Special Category Status Agenda For Presidential Polls

AP Congress president Raghuveera Reddy had asked CM Naidu and Opposition leader Jagan to ask PM Modi to give special category status to the State while extending their support to NDA.

Amaravati: The Andhra Pradesh Congress president N Raghuveera Reddy has asked TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu and YSR Congress president Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy to set special category status as a precondition to extend support to the NDA candidate for the Presidential polls. He took exception to the ruling and Opposition party in the State joining single alliance with the BJP. He said that the two parties have extended support to the NDA for the Presidential elections and wanted them to use the opportunity to mount pressure on the BJP leadership to grant special category status to the State. He wanted both TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu and Opposition leader Jagan Mohan Reddy to ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give special category status to the State, a promise that was made by the BJP and TDP in the 2014 elections.

The APCC president recalled that the BJP had promised special category status for 10 years while the TDP had asked it for 15 years. However, after coming to power, the two parties have gone back on the promise and have finally brought special package in its place betraying the people. He wanted the TDP to insist on the NDA to give the special category status to the State as a precondition for TDP’s support in the Presidential elections.

Raghuveera also sought to remind the YSR Congress of its promise to fight for the special category status to the State. He also asked the YSR Congress leaders to set special category status as a precondition to its support to BJP in the Presidential elections.

He said that the Congress, which had promised special category status had mobilised the support of 11 parties at the national level. He wanted the TDP and the YSR Congress to raise the issue while extending the support to NDA.

The APCC leader called upon the people to mount pressure on both the ruling TDP and the Opposition YSR Congress to fight for the special category status before the Presidential election.

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KVP Fixes Naidu On Special Category Status

Congress MP K V P Ramachandra Rao wrote to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Naidu asking him to pressurize Central government for Special Category Status to the State.

Amaravati: Congress Member of Rajya Sabha K V P Ramachandra Rao on Tuesday dashed off a letter to Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu to mount pressure on the Central government seeking special category status to the State. KVP said that the Niti Ayog is set to hold its second meeting on April 23, 2017, after its first meeting held on February 8, 2015. He said that there was no scope of the Niti Ayog holding its third meeting before the 2019 elections and wanted Naidu to make use of this meeting to press for the special category status to the State.

The Congress MP recalled that the special category status was a promise by the ruling Congress-led UPA and supported by the BJP-led NDA in the Parliament. He further recalled that the NDA, in which the TDP too is a partner, had promised the special category status to the State in their election manifesto and have promised to the people at their election meeting in Tirupati. He wanted Naidu to fulfill the election promise and see that the State is given the special category status.

Ramachandra Rao ridiculed the NDA claims that special category status had become irrelevant in the light of the 14th Finance Commission. He recalled that the 14th Finance Commission chairman Y V Reddy had discounted the claim and had categorically denied to have recommended against the special category status to the State. Having exposed by the 14th Finance Commission report, the NDA was now taking shelter in the devolution of funds from the Center. He alleged that the Central government was taking excuse in the name of Finance Commission and the National Development Council recommendations.

The Congress MP wanted the BJP and the TDP to tell people why the parties have demanded for special category status before and during the 2014 elections and why it was not given now. Referring to the TDP claims of getting seven Polavaram mandals was possible only with the pressure mounted by Naidu, the Congress MP wanted the Chief Minister to mount similar pressure and get the special category status. It is now or never, he said and expressed confidence that Naidu would get the status and fulfill his election promise.

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Congress to hold Peoples’ ballot on special category status

Amaravati: The Andhra Pradesh Congress would conduct peoples’ ballot on Special Category Status in all the 175 Assembly constituencies in the State. This would be held from March 5 to 30, said APCC president N Raghuveera Reddy.

The APCC president who chaired a meeting of the party district and urban units presidents and members of the party’s demonetization, announced at a news conference later in the evening, said that the party leaders would conduct the open ballot on special category status. He said that the party in the State had collected one crore signatures in the past on the same issue. This time in the peoples’ ballot, the Congress would collect the views of 2 crore people across the 13 districts, he added.

Raghuveera Reddy said that the meeting discussed at length about the Special Category Status promise that both the TDP and BJP during the 2014 elections and the party’s betrayal by going back on the promise and proposing special package. He alleged that both the TDP and BJP have betrayed the people of the State by going back on the election promise. However, he said that the Congress would shoulder the responsibility and get the special category status to the State. The party had already collected signatures from people, introduced private member bill in Parliament and mobilized the support of 10 parties in Parliament for special category status.

The APCC president further said that the party would sensitize people on the demonetization in all the 175 Assembly constituencies from March 5 to 15. He said that the thoughtless demonetization had caused severe damage to the people as the government had failed to take alternative measures after the demonetization. The Congress committees in the State would hold meetings to create awareness among people on demonetization problems, he said.

The Congress would also hold protests at the district Collectorates in the State on February 25 in the State, Raghuveera said. These protests would explain the drinking water woes of the people and highlight prevailing drought conditions in the State and the indifferent attitude of the government.

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Jagan’s Yuva Garjana in Guntur on Feb 16

Dara Gopi

Amaravati: The main Opposition party in AP Legislative Assembly, YSR Congress, has finalized the venue for the proposed Yuva Garjana (roar of youth), in Guntur on February 16. The leaders have zeroed in on a vacant site near market yard on Nallapadu road in Guntur, where YSRCP chief Jaganmohan Reddy had earlier held the hunger strike for the Special Category Status. This time too, Jaganmohan Reddy is set to address the students and youth here emphasizing on the Special Category Status.

Jaganmohan Reddy, who has been campaigning for the Special Category Status to the State as promised at the time of bifurcation, will explain the benefits the SCS will bring to the State and ‘expose’ the reasons for going back on the promise made by BJP and TDP.

Students and youth have been fighting for the SCS, even though the BJP has pushed forward its special package as an alternative which the TDP welcomed it. But the youth are not ready to accept the so-called ‘fair deal’. In fact, it was the BJP and the TDP that had promised lots of advantages if the State was given the Special Category Status during their election campaign. The two parties have raised the hopes of the youth, particularly the unemployed, on getting jobs through the Special Category Status.

The hopes of the youth were raised with the flow of investment to the State through the Special Category Status. BJP senior leader and now Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had emerged as champion of the Special Category Status for the State during his initiative in Rajya Sabha at the time of bifurcation. The people of the State hailed his historical speech in Rajya Sabha on December 22, 2013 on Special Category Status to the State.

However, now, Venkaiah Naidu has changed his tack and began to compromise on the issue for a package. Though Venkaiah Naidu tried to convince the people for the package in place of Status for the past two and a half years, people are not ready to take his words anymore. It was seen in the huge response to the demand in the social media and the subsequent agitation planned in Visakhapatnam on January 26.

The YSR Congress chief is set to take advantage of the peoples’ demand for the Special Category Status and their non-compromising fight for it. He is set to focus more on the aspirations of the people and win over the youth by lending them his voice for Special Category Status at the Guntur meet.

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Jagan to address youth at Guntur on Feb 16 on Special Category Status

Amaravati: Leader of Opposition and the YSR Congress president, Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, will address the students and youth in Guntur on February 16, explaining to them the need to fight for Special Category Status.

Though the ruling TDP and BJP have ruled out the possibility of getting the Special Category Status, the Opposition parties continue to fight for the issue. The BJP had come up with the package in place of Status which the TDP had welcomed and accepted dropping the demand for the Special Category Status. However, the Congress, the YSR Congress and the Left parties have been fighting for the Status turning down the Package.

The Congress had tabled a private member bill for the Special Category Status in the Rajya Sabha during last Parliament session, which was later referred to the Lok Sabha where it was dismissed. Now, the YSR Congress is coming up with the same, a private member bill this time in the Lok Sabha. Besides fighting for the Status in the Parliament, the YSR Congress wants to take the battle to the streets. Jaganmohan Reddy had already addressed the students and youth in couple of districts and is now set to address the youth of the capital region on February 16.

Though the TDP-led government is firm on suppressing the voices for the Special Category Status, the Opposition is equally strong in raising the demand. Jaganmohan Reddy and Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan are addressing the youth on the demand. Interestingly, Pawan Kalyan had given enough indications of breaking the alliance with the BJP and TDP on the Special Category Status and take the fight to the streets.

Constantly opposed to the demand for Special Category Status to the State, it is to be seen how the ruling TDP-BJP combine is set to handle Jaganmohan Reddy’s meeting with the youth and students in the new capital.

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State exhibits shameless rule as thousands dare to voice for Special Category Status

  • Hundreds of youth arrested across Andhra Pradesh
  • State put under police control
  • Jagan sent back from Visakhapatnam

Amaravati: The State witnessed shameful exhibition of dictatorship with the police taking over every inch of the State and prevented the peoples’ agitation for the Special Category Status to the State on Thursday. The police have sent back Leader of Opposition Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy from Visakhapatnam preventing him from joining the candle light protest at the R K Beach. Dozens of the legislators, hundreds of leaders from Opposition parties, including the Left parties, and thousands of youth and students were beaten up and arrested at various places across the State.

The attempts of the youth, students and women, besides representatives of various political parties, trade and employees unions, civil society organisations were taken into custody and prevented from holding any form of protest in favour of the Special Category Status. The police have successfully prevented and thrashed every hand that was raised for the SCS and silenced every voice.

The police took over the total control of the State, blocked every street, preventing people from walking in groups. The students, women and youth were chased, beaten and shifted to different places all over the State preventing them from rallying for the SCS.

In Visakhapatnam, the roads and lanes leading to the beach were closed and people found on these roads and lanes were arrested and physically lifted and bundled in the police and private vehicles and were shifted to other places.

The State government had displayed its unrest to the popular demand by using the police force. The police did not allow any individual to come on to the streets and exhibit their feelings for the SCS.

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Tamilians Jallikattu fight inspires Telugus to revive fight for Special Category Status

  • First move to press for Status to be held at Vizag on Jan 26

Amaravati: The demand for Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh, a promise that was made to the people on the Floor of Rajya Sabha at the time of bifurcation, is gaining ground once again, thanks to the fight by the neighbouring Tamilians who fought successfully for their traditional Jallikattu game. The fight by the Tamilians, including the government, had made the government to bow before the public demand and allow Jallikattu.

Taking inspiration from this success, the demand for the Special Category Status (SCS) to the State is gaining ground. While a non-political forum that has been raising the voice for the past two years under the leadership of Chalasani Srinivas renewed the demand, a group of youth joined hands in the social media and called for a protest gathering at R K Beach in Visakhapatnam in support of the demand. This gathering is slated for January 26, the Republic Day, to register their protest.

The promise for Special Category Status and the subsequent claims of the political parties on the development projected through it had raised the hopes of the youth on their future. The wounds caused by the bifurcation began to heal only after the Congress and the BJP promised that the SCS would bring greater development to the State in the form of industries and that would create employment. However, the government’s going back on the SCS and announcing just a package and the TDP compromising on the issue, had again mutilated the healing wound.

The promises of Congress, BJP & TDP on the benefits of the SCS to the State are afresh in the memories of the people. It was for this promise that they have voted the BJP-TDP combine in the State, particularly after Narendra Modi, Venkaiah Naidu and Chandrababu Naidu promising to give SCS to the State and Pawan Kalyan standing guarantee for the promise at the Tirupati meeting. Though the Congress-led UPA government had promised the SCS for five years, the BJP had promised to extend it for 10 years and the TDP had sought it for 15 years. It was on this demand and the promise, the people of the 13 districts have admired Venkaiah Naidu and had even honoured him in every town for his lone battle for the state at the time of bifurcation.

The video clipping of Venkaiah Naidu demanding for the SCS for 10 years in the Rajya Sabha were liked and shared by millions admiring him, worshiping him and thanking him for standing for their cause. They made him a hero.

Now, in power for two-and-a-half years, the BJP had gone back on the promise of granting SCS for 10 years, while the TDP had shut its demand for 15 years. The two parties have compromised on a package in place of Status, which is not accepted by the people. They have been raising the demand on and off in their own way all these days. But the success of the Tamil brothers fight for Jallikattu had brought these unhappy youth and people together and the fight is set to begin at Visakhapatnam.

Interestingly, Telugu film industry had extended support for this move with some heroes openly extending support for the demand. Hero-turned-politician, Pawan Kalyan and others have lent their voice for the Special Category Status demand.

The voices that have been silent on the demand due to the suppressive measures by the Chandrababu Naidu government for all these days are set to make noise once again in the larger interests of the State. It is now to be seen how the BJP-TDP combine would handle this, if it goes viral as in the case of Jallikattu.

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APCC names its MLC candidates for three graduate constituencies

Dara Gopi

Amaravati: The Andhra Pradesh Congress on Saturday announced the names of three MLC candidates for the ensuing elections. Banking totally on the “Special Category Status” demand for the State, the AP Congress had jumped into the election with an eye on the graduates in north coastal and Rayalaseema districts.  

APCC president N Raghuveera Reddy announced the names of Yadla Adiraju for the Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam graduates constituency followed by Masulu Srinivasulu for Ananthapur, Kadapa and Kurnool and Dr. Yaluri Ramachandra Reddy for Chittoor, Prakasam and Nellore districts graduates constituency. Leaving the local body representatives, the Congress had set its eyes on the graduates constituency with the slogan of fighting for the Special Category Status to the State, a promise that was made on the floor of Lok Sabha at the time of passing of the AP Reorganisation Act 2013.

The AP Congress had been fighting for the special category status right from the bifurcation of the State. The total wipe out of the party in the 2014 elections from Assembly to the gram panchayat did not deter the leadership to continue the fight for the Special Category Status. Its leaders led by Raghuveera Reddy have been fighting for the cause in the State and in Delhi too.

The party had successfully collected 1 crore signatures from the people of all the 13 districts in favour of the Special Category Status. The signatures were sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukharjee, seeking their attention to the promise made by the Central government before Rajya Sabha finally voted for the bill.

The APCC had also prevailed upon the AICC chief Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi to write to the Prime Minister reminding him of the promise on the Special Category Status. Interestingly, the APCC leadership had also made former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to speak in Parliament recalling his promise on the floor of Rajya Sabha.

Raghuveera Reddy had mobilized support from 11 parties that have representation in the both Houses of Parliament in support of the demand for the Special Category Status when Rajya Sabha took up the private member bill tabled by Congress MP K V P Ramachandra Rao. Rao’s bill had generated expected heat across the State for the cause and that had, to some extent, helped the Congress to breath in the State.

The private member bill and the subsequent fight of the Congress leaders from the State for Special Category Status had helped the Congress reach out to the educated unemployed in the State on which, the party is now banking upon to enter into the Legislative Council.

The going back on the Special Category Status and announcing Special Package by the BJP and TDP is seen as a betrayal by the people, particularly the educated unemployed. In fact, the tall promises of Narendra Modi and Chandrababu Naidu during the 2014 elections in the State on their commitment for the Special Category Status are still afresh in the minds of the people. The pain of the unjust bifurcation was digested by the people of the State only on the promise of Special Category Status, which is expected to bring more investments into the State leading to employment creation. Now, the package is not seen as an alternative to the Status and it is here that the Congress wants to have an edge.

Though Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had compromised on the package in place of Status, the people across the State are not buying his lies on the benefits that the package would bring. Because it was Chandrababu Naidu and Venkaiah Naidu who have explained in detail to the people about the benefits of the Special Category Status during their electioneering in 2014 and any word in substitute to the Status is seen as a betrayal. Sensing the mood of the people, the Congress had jumped into the election race to take an advantage.

Well, victory in these three graduates constituencies is not going to be the main objective of the Congress. But what matters is that the Congress with the slogan of Special Category Status is all set to make the ruling combine to run for life.

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Centre to implement AP Reorganisation Act in toto

  • Sonia urges Modi to help AP
  • Reminds the govt. of obligations under Act

NEW DELHI: Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs M. Venkaiah Naidu has said the Union government was committed to implement all the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Reogranisation Act, 2014.

Venkaiah Naidu spoke at length on various issues relating to the formation of the State of Telangana, giving special category status to Andhra Pradesh and implementation of the Act during his intervention in the debate on AP Reorganisation Act (Amendment) Bill, 2015 in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. The Bill seeks to enhance the strength of AP Legislative Council from 50 that was erroneously mentioned in the Act of 2014 to 58 as per the Constitutional provision.

Venkaiah said having promised Telangana as early as in 2004, the Congress waited till 2014 and drafted the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014 in a hurry resulting in several errors like incorrect mention of the strength of AP Legislative Council, allotting Rajya Sabha members hailing from one state to the other, not properly addressing the issue of submergence under Polavaram project etc. He informed the House that the NDA Government has inherited such a legislation and is sincerely making efforts to implement all the provisions of the Act.

Responding to Sonia Gandhi’s observations on giving the Special Category status to Andhra Pradesh, Naidu thanked the Congress Party for thinking of the interests of that State after nine months. He asked the Congress as to why the issue of special catergory was not included in the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014 which would have made it easier for the Government to act on it.  Naidu referred to what senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily has said on the issue of special category status to Andhra Pradesh while speaking on General Budget on Monday. Naidu quoted  Moily’s observations as below:

“There will be a flight of capital from neighbouring states like Karnataka, Kerala and Bihar. There should be a method followed while giving such incentives to one state. All of them will go and invest there and nothing wrong in it.  But the question is how can you create this kind of inequality and inequity between one state and the other. It is a major issue. After all, you are an arbitrator sitting in the Government of India. You will have to look after the interest of very state.”

Venkaiah Naidu noted that what Moily raised reflects the issues involved in taking a decision in the matter and hence, the process is taking time. Venkaiah, while referring to media reports after the Act was passed in the Rajya Sabha, acknowledged that he spoke for the interests of the people of Andhra Pradesh as they needed to be done justice further to bifurcation. He refuted the criticism that he has gone back on his demands.

Naidu said the Union government is very keen about taking the Act forward and reminded the members of the House that the Polavaram Ordinance was the second decision taken by the Modi Government in its first Cabinet meeting after assuming office, to take the irrigation project forward. He assured the house that the issue of rehabilitation of tribals will be addressed to in all seriousness by the central and state governments. He said that contrary to the assurances given to him by some union ministers, the then UPA government did not do the needful to address the issue of submergence in seven mandals and to enable implementation of Polavaram project.

Naidu said that all parties including the Congress, BJP, TDP and CPI supported the demand for creation of a separate Telangana state and all should cooperate with each other for development of both the states.

Earlier, Congress president Sonia Gandhi made an appeal to the Prime Minister to look into the matter of giving financial assistance to AP. She also reminded the PM of the obligation on the part of the government to give the residuary state a special status. (NSS)

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AP special status, Chandrababu seeks Pawan Kalyan ’s help

HYERABAD: An exasperated Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, N Chandrababu Naidu is all set to take help of Jana Sena chief and actor Pawan Kalyan to exert pressure on the  Centre for granting to special category status as well as financial package to the State.

The actor called on Mr. Chandrababu Naidu on Sunday morning at the former’s residence and discussed issues related to the special category status and financial package to the State. They were closeted for one and a half hours.

The meeting assumes significance as Pawan Kalyan had tweeted a few days ago that time was ripe for the BJP Government at the Centre to keep its promise of providing adequate assistance to Andhra Pradesh. Also, many farmers holding Jana Sena flags staged a protest in capital city area in Guntur against what they called ‘forcible’ land pooling.

Nonetheless, a majority of farmers came forward to give their land for the capital city; but there was also some confusion and displeasure among others over this controversial issue.

Later, talking to media persons, Mr. Chandrababu said that he had sought Pawan Kalyan’s help with regard to construction of world class new capital for the state and to accompany him to Delhi to exert pressure on the Centre.  Pawan Kalyan reportedly expressed his discontent over the Union Budget 2015 as it failed to give clarity on special status issue and financial package.

Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi had time and again promised to extend complete support for the new capital construction and special financial assistance, the budget had failed to reflect the same, they felt.

Chandrababu also agreed with Pawan Kalyan’s argument that that the Centre did not honor the AP on these two issues. The actor is said to have settled to a proposal to make it to Delhi to meet Modi. It is learnt that they had decided to call on Mr. Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley seeking necessary funds and special status. (NSS)

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Sonia writes to PM on special status to AP

HYDERABAD: Congress president Sonia Gandhi has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately announce special category status to Andhra Pradesh as promised by his predecessor Dr. Manmohan Singh in the Rajya Sabha on February 20, 2014.

 Ms. Gandh sent her missive on February 19, the eve of the first anniversary of the passage of the A. P. Reorganization Act in Parliament that has changed the future of the two Telugu speaking States.This is Ms. Sonia  Gandhi’s second letter to the PM after her first one on June 2 requesting that he fulfill commitments made to the people of AP in letter and spirit.

Copy of Sonia’s letter

 But, she noted, even after eight months after bifurcation, the commitments had not been fulfilled and the special category status announced by Dr. Manmohan Singh not yet secured. She urged the Prime Minister to announce the special status in the President’s address to both Houses of Parliament at the commencement of the ensuing budget session.

 The Congress president also wanted Mr. Modi to see that adequate resources were provided in the Union budget to provide financial assistance to Andhra Pradesh to overcome the severe shortage of revenues and support construction of its new capital. Adequate budget provisions must also be made to various Ministries for implementing the development package committed in the Act.

 Further, Ms. Gandhi reminded the PM to show requisite allocations in the Railway budget to fulfill the commitment relating to the Indian Railways.

 Sonia’s letter may put BJP, TDP in a fix

 The Congress president’s letter is seen as an effort to stem further erosion of the party’s fortunes in Andhra which touched rock-bottom during the May 2014 elections when angry voters rejected the party lock, stock and barrel. Its fortunes have not seen any upswing going by the results of the recent Assembly byelection in Tirupati where its candidate lost her deposit in a virtually two-sided contest.

 Ms. Gandhi is also preparing ground to corner the NDA Government in the ensuing Parliament session for going back on the Dr. Singh’s promises which the BJP had whole-heartedly supported. Such a move would also embarrass the TDP since it can neither afford to oppose the demand nor antagonize, its ally, the BJP by supporting it.

 Political compulsions at the national level have forced the BJP to more or less dump the move to give special status to AP. Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu has been dropping hints that the Centre may not implement its decision to give special status to AP because some States, including Bihar which will go to elections in November 2015, were already in the queue with the same demand.

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AP feels shortchanged by Centre’s moves on special category status

S.Nagesh Kumar

HYDERABAD: The Narendra Modi Government has led Andhra Pradesh up the garden path by granting a measly development package of about Rs. 350 crore for seven districts instead of the special category status promised by the Centre. It was the BJP that had extracted this promise from the UPA Government as a pre-condition for passing the AP Reorganisation Bill in Parliament in February 2014.

There is almost nothing in the Centre’s package when compared to the tall expectations of Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu. Being a partner in the NDA alliance, he cannot make much ado about it either.

All that the package offers is Rs. 50 crore each for seven districts and ad hoc support of Rs. 500 crore to bridge the State’s financial gap. This is a paltry sum considering that AP’s fiscal deficit was estimated in the budget at Rs. 12,064 crore. It has been increasing ever since the budget was presented in August 2014.

A few other sops like tax incentives and additional depreciation for plant and machinery of industries have been thrown in by the Finance Ministry on Thursday. Lest the Telangana Government make a noise that the NDA Government is partial, a few concession have also been given to it.

All this gimmickry does little to camouflage the Centre’s real intention to bury the issue of giving special category status to AP. Some of the Union Ministers have been dropping hints to the effect that the National Development Council’s approval was needed but several CMs would strongly oppose giving any concession to AP without similar sops for them.

What does special category status involve

Giving special category status is primarily aimed at assisting weaker States with hilly or difficult terrain or high percentage of tribal population and enabling them to compete with those endowed with better financial or natural resources. The Centre is required to give preferential treatment in fund assistance to such States.

It is also mandated to extend excise duty concessions to help attract industries to the State. As much as 30 per cent of the Centre’s gross budget goes to the States in the special category of which there are 11 now.

The crux of the problem is that the previous UPA Government discovered that AP did not qualify for special category status much after the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced in the Rajya Sabha that residuary Andhra Pradesh would indeed be given such status. Even the Cabinet gave its consent for according special category status to AP for a period of five years.

A deliberate ploy or a goof-up by UPA-II

Although not backward by any yardstick, residuary Andhra Pradesh became non-viable financially the moment it was created since revenue collections from Hyderabad, the financial hub, would go to Telangana. Possibly, this could not be a goof-up but a deliberate plan of crossing the bridge only on coming to it. In other words, managing the problem only if the AP Government raised a protest.

The Chandrababu Naidu Government will do nothing of that sort not merely because it is an NDA partner. It can ill-afford to antagonize the Centre as it needs financial assistance for building the new capital near Vijayawada, preferential treatment in allocation of funds by the 13th Finance Commission and immediate help for bridging the fiscal deficit.

Political considerations will dictate final decision

Mr. Naidu is a pragmatic leader who would rather extract these concessions than live under the illusion of getting special category status. Tamil Nadu has opposed dispensing any such favour to its Telugu-speaking neighbour as excise duty concessions would lead to flight of industries from TN to AP.

The Modi Government has apparently taken the stand that such a step would open a Pandora’s Box. Bihar, Rajasthan, Odisha and Jharkhand are among those in the queue demanding special category status.

Assembly elections are due in Bihar this year and the Janata Dal (U) has already made this a political issue. The BJP can grant special category status to AP at the peril of giving the JD (U) and the RJD a handle it beat it with.

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