New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) The government on Tuesday rejected the opposition’s demand to extend Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh even as former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that he had made this assurance on behalf of Parliament and had expected his successor to fulfil it.
Replying to over three-and-half-hours-long debate in Rajya Sabha over non-implementation of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, Union Home Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that the BJP-led Central government has fulfilled “around 90 per cent” of the commitments under the Act and was committed to fulfil the rest “at any cost”, including those made by Manmohan Singh.
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), a former NDA coalition partner, had asked for a discussion on the issue, alleging that “justice” was not being done with the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh.
Rajnath Singh said that he could not understand why some members were stuck with the word “Special Category Status” when the Centre was actually giving Andhra “even those incentives not mentioned in the Act”.
Noting that due to “some conflict” between the commitments made by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the 14th Finance Commission’s recommendations, “it was decided in consultation with Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu that instead of granting Special Category Status, Andhra Pradesh should be given special assistance”.
“The Chief Minister had in September 2016 agreed to this arrangement and said in the state aassembly in a statement that special assistance was more useful than the Special Category status,” he said.
The Home Minister underlined that Andhra was being given Rs 22,123 crore as revenue deficit spread over five years, out of the 11 higher education institutions promised, 10 have already been approved and many are functional, while the promised railway zone “will be established”.
For the “lifeline” Pollavaram Irrigation Project, the Centre has already released over Rs 6,764 crore, he said.
Intervening during the Short Duration Discussion, Manmohan Singh said that Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh was an assurance made by him on behalf of the Parliament and had been discussed with then Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley and other senior BJP leaders.
“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 the Parliament. I had expected that my distinguished successor to fulfil the commitments I had made after consultations with his own colleagues,” he said.
Earlier, initiating the debate, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader and former Union Minister Y.S. Chowdary accused former ally BJP of “violating the principles of friendship and political morality”.
“The BJP took a U-turn and violated the principles of friendship and political morality. Their sole aim is to destroy the TDP for their own expansion. That is why we parted ways with a heavy heart,” he said.
Chowdary said there was a “disconnect” between the words and deeds of Modi who had “not once, but thrice during his election campaign in 2014 promised special status for 10 years for the residual state of Andhra Pradesh.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the demand of a separate Telanagana was just and so was the demand of Andhra Pradesh for Special Category Status, while though the Centre, in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, claimed that all the commitments had been addressed, he said that nothing has been done.
“There will be a privilege against you. I don’t know why a privilege has not been raised so far,” he said, accusing the government of “deceiving the nation, the parliament and the people of Andhra Pradesh”.
BJP’s G.V.L Narsimha Rao claimed that the centre was allocating more funds to state while the state government was not performing its duties and only blaming the centre.
Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav supported the TDP’s demand but opposed the idea of creating small states.
“We should learn lessons from history. We have seen the adverse results of the Partition of the country. We did not learn lessons from division of states….. Its not that after creation of states, small states get developed. We have seen there was no Maoism in undivided Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. Today Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are facing this menace.”
Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien said: “This issue is beyond Andhra Pradesh. Making promises the BJP is too good. In marketing, they are super good but implementation is the problem with them. They give only speeches but no action on ground.”
BJD’s Prasanna Acharya said that Odisha, which is “suffering”, also meets the requirement for Special Category Status.
Janata Dal-United’s R.C.P. Singh said the day any state is provided Special Category Status, Bihar should also get it.