New Delhi July 24: The central government on Tuesday ruled out giving special category status to Andhra Pradesh and said the bifurcated state had got a better deal. This came hours after former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took a dig at his successor Narendra Modi and said that Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh was assured by the UPA government after consulting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and he had expected it to be fulfilled by the central government.
The issue came up for discussion in the Rajya Sabha three days after it figured prominently during a debate on the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha on a notice given by a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) member. It must be noted that the TDP MP Jayadev Galla moved the no-confidence motion in Parliament last week and accused PM Modi of breaking the promises of granting “special category” status to Andhra Pradesh he had made four years ago. “The saga of Andhra Pradesh during this Modi-Shah regime is a saga of empty promises,” he said. He claimed that the Centre had favoured the neighbouring states. Galla also added that Andhra Pradesh was projected to tremendous challenges when it needed reliefs.
Rajnath Singh asked why some members were stuck with the phrase special category status when the Centre was giving Andhra “even those incentives not mentioned in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act” that led to the creation of Telangana. Manmohan Singh said he had made a “solemn commitment” on the floor of the Rajya Sabha as Prime Minister for special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
“For purposes of Central assistance, special category status will be extended to the successor state and this had been decided in view of the fact that the revenue collection in Hyderabad will accrue entirely to Telangana.” He said the commitment to Andhra Pradesh had been discussed with then Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley and other senior BJP leaders.
“(The) government is a continuing entity. Commitments made on the floor of the House have to be honoured and fulfilled. They are in nature of assurance on behalf of Parliament. I had expected my distinguished successor to fulfil the commitments I had made after consultations with his own colleagues.”
Intervening in the debate, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said the Andhra Act was being respected and will be respected. “The government remains committed to ensuring the welfare of state of Andhra Pradesh and people of Andhra Pradesh.” In his reply, Rajnath Singh said the BJP-led central government had fulfilled “around 90 per cent” of the commitments made under the Andhra Act and was “committed” to fulfil the rest “at any cost”.
“Our government will fulfil all the commitments made not only by our Prime Minister but also those made by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.”
He said there was some conflict between the commitments made by Manmohan Singh and the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, and hence it was decided in consultation with Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu that instead of granting special category status, Andhra should be given special assistance.
The demand for special status to Andhra Pradesh is being strongly articulated by the ruling TDP and the opposition YSR Congress Party in the state. The Congress has also supported the demand for the state that will go to the assembly polls along with Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) member Y.S. Chowdary accused the BJP of “violating the principles of friendship and political morality” and of trying to expand in Andhra Pradesh at the expense of his party.
“Now the government is misleading the people of Andhra and the media by saying that the 14th Finance Commission has recommended that there should be no special category status for any state. This is far from the truth,” Chowdary said. “We are not begging, we are not asking for any favours. We are asking for what is rightfully ours.”
(With agency inputs)