A state agitating for a special category status and a financial package is evidently not pleased with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “show of support” for Andhra Pradesh and its capital in the form of a jar of soil collected from Parliament premises and a pot of water from the Yamuna River.
A day after the PM laid the foundation for Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh witnessed protests lead by the opposition Congress, YSR Congress and the Left parties condemning Modi’s silence over the issue.
In Vijayawada, close to Amaravati, Congress workers burnt the effigies of the PM and vowed to step up the agitation for the special status. YSRCP leaders ridiculed Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu for failing to extract a commitment from his alliance partner.
In his speech on Thursday, Modi had refrained from committing on the actual jar of goodies – special status, financial support etc – the state and its people were expecting from the Centre since last year to cope up with the bifurcation and to construct the Greenfield capital city.
Barring the brief visit to Vizag after cyclone Hudhud last October, this is the first prominent tour of Modi in the state since the general elections when he campaigned along with Naidu promising all support to the state.
So, the foundation ceremony, which Naidu conducted on a grand scale collecting sample soils and waters from across the country, was touted as an occasion when the PM could make an announcement on a special package to the state.
Though the actual demand is for a special category status, the state is at least expecting a package to tune of Rs 1.25 lakh crore – similar to the one announced for Bihar by the PM recently.
“Modi’s speech was very disappointing. Instead of same old assurances, he should have spell out some figure saying this is what Andhra would get from the centre,” said Nekkalapudi Pavan from Krishna district.
While expressing his gratitude to Modi for bringing the soil and water and laying the foundation, Naidu did remind Modi of his financial situation but shied away from clearly spelling out his needs. “We have received some support from you already. But I request your hand-holding for the state till it can be on its own and contribute to the country,” Naidu said.
Speaking later, Modi blamed the UPA for dividing the united AP in haste and in a haphazard manner but only stated the earlier line of his government that every commitment made in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act 2014 would be fulfilled, “in letter and spirit.”
“Lot of my effort now is going for correcting the wrongs committed by the previous government,” said Modi.
However, the BJP had supported the then PM Manmohan Singh’s assurance in Parliament that Andhra Pradesh would be given a special status for five years.
Special status and package are not part of the act which also limits the quantum of support to the capital to core government structures like secretariat, assembly.
Naidu had to embark on the capital project as Hyderabad – the common capital - would go to Telangana in 2024. But instead of a mere administrative structure, Naidu has envisioned Amaravati as world class capital and financial hub.
However, the state claims to be suffering a huge revenue deficit attributed mainly to the loss of Hyderabad.