The special category status issue rocked the Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly on the first day of the monsoon session in Hyderabad on Thursday with Opposition YSR Congress stalling proceedings denouncing the Centre’s announcement of a financial package for the state.
YSRC members, who came into the House 20 minutes after the proceedings began on Thursday morning, stormed the speaker’s podium, holding placards and raising slogans “Pratyeka Hoda Andhrula Hakku” (special status is Andhra’s right).
They also were critical of the chief minister for “compromising” on the state’s interests.
Legislative affairs minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said the government would make a statement in the House on the announcement made by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on the grant of a special economic package to the state.
“You have no patriotism, nor belief in the assembly. You boycotted the recitation of the National Anthem in the House. When the government itself is ready to make a statement, why don’t you take part in the subsequent debate,” Yanamala asked the YSRC, whose male members came wearing black shirts and women members black sarees, protesting the denial of special status to AP.
Leader of Opposition Y S Jaganmohan Reddy recalled that the House passed two unanimous resolutions previously demanding that special status be granted to the state.
“Last night, Jaitley categorically ruled out special status. When the chief minister himself welcomed this announcement, what should we discuss,” Jagan wondered.
As some of the YSRC legislators surrounded his chair and some others stayed put in the Well, speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao warned them to “avoid unruly behaviour”.
“You can’t hijack the House. This is very unfair. I am pleading with you (to ensure order),” the speaker said but the Opposition members only raised their pitch.
The speaker then adjourned the House for ten minutes.
In a late night development, the Centre announced a financial package for Andhra Pradesh that includes full funding of Pollavaram irrigation project, tax concessions and a special assistance, but stopped short of giving the state a special category status.
Andhra Pradesh, which financially suffered because of creation of separate state of Telengana in June 2014, will get a railway zone as also all cost incurred on the irrigation part of Pollavaram project from the date it was declared a National Project on April 1, 2014 will be funded by the Centre.
The state government will, however, implement the project, Jaitley said at a late night press conference.
Citing constraints placed by the 14th finance commission in grant of special category status to Andhra Pradesh, Jaitley said an amount equivalent to what that categorisation would have fetched, would be given to the state in form of a Special Assistance Measure for five years.
Andhra Pradesh has been demanding a special category state (SCS) status from the Centre ever since the state’s economic powerhouse Hyderabad, which housed several IT and pharmaceutical companies as well as PSUs, went to Telangana in the bifurcation.
While the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act does not mention of SCS for the state, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on the floor of Rajya Sabha on February 20, 2014 promised to grant the status to the state for five years.