The Congress mounted a coordinated attack on the Modi government in Parliament for not giving Andhra Pradesh a special category status vociferously demanded by the BJP when it was in the opposition.
The government didn’t commit itself to granting the status that would give it preferential treatment such as concessions on excise duty and a higher proportion of central funds as grants, not loans.
But parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu read out a list of projects that had been approved for Andhra, asserting that it was as good as a special status. Naidu’s long list prompted taunts from the Telangana Rashtra Samiti who wished that the Centre had a similar list for Telangana too.
Ghulam Nabi Azad in the Rajya Sabha and Mallikarjun Kharge in the Lok Sabha had sought adjournment of proceedings early in the day to flag the demand for special status for AP. Azad said then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had promised the status in the Rajya Sabha when the law bifurcating Andhra Pradesh was passed in February 2014.
The UPA government had, however, refused to incorporate this provision in the law, something that the BJP-led coalition is using to distance itself from the former PM’s commitment.
In the Rajya Sabha – where Congress MPs trooped into the Well of the house – finance minister Arun Jaitley pledged to help Andhra Pradesh but hinted that granting special category status was not on its radar.
“There are several commitments which are involved in the AP Reorganisation Act. Centre is going to honour each one of those commitments in letter and spirit,” he said. When Naidu made a similar point in the Lok Sabha, Congress chief whip Jyotiraditya Scindia retorted that none of the 11 states that have a special category status were given this treatment due to a law.