Andhra getting more than what it would have got as special category state: Rajnath Singh
The home minister’s statement came after former prime minister Manmohan Singh said he had expected his successor Narendra Modi to fulfil the UPA government’s commitment on special category status to Andhra Pradesh.Updated: Jul 24, 2018 22:16 IST
Virtually ruling out granting special category status to Andhra Pradesh, home minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said the Centre was providing more assistance than what it would have got under that status.
Assuring the Rajya Sabha that all promises made to the people of the state would be fulfilled, Singh said 90 per cent of promises made under the Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Act, which had led to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in 2014, have already been fulfilled.
“The remaining promises will also be kept,” he said while replying to a short-duration discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the non-implementation of provisions of the 2014 Act.
The home minister’s statement came after former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he had expected his successor Narendra Modi to fulfil the UPA government’s commitment on special category status to Andhra Pradesh as it was a promise made after consulting the BJP leaders at that time.
The TDP and other opposition parties also asked the Centre to honour its assurances in letter and spirit by granting special category status to Andhra Pradesh, even as the BJP accused the ruling party of the state of “misleading” its own people. Recently, the TDP quit the NDA coalition over this issue.
“Whatever commitments which have been given, not only by our Prime Minister but even the commitments made by former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh, our government will fulfill those commitments,” the Minister said, adding that commitments made in Parliament should be kept and the Centre is doing it.
After his reply, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad categorically asked whether the Centre would be giving special category status to AP and sought a reply in “Yes or No”.
To this, the Minister wondered whether it was not clear from his reply.
“Why are you just stuck at special category status. Why don’t you just move on? The idea behind special category status is that the state should get assistance. We are giving more assistance than that,” Singh said.
He said the state was entitled to get over Rs 22,000 crore as revenue deficit grant in five years ending 2019-20 and the Centre is disbursing the amount.
The home minister said there was a “conflict” between the former Prime Minister’s promise of special category status and the 14th Finance Commission report, which has not made any distinction between special category state and other States.
Highlighting the projects approved by the Centre in last four years, he said the permission for setting up 10 educational institutions have already been given, out of the 11 promised and there would be no funding constraint.
On infrastrucure projects, the Minister said expert panels have been asked to re-examine the feasibility of steel plants and railway zone. “We will set up railway zone in AP”.
Singh also assured the House that he would personally take interest in the matter and appealed to the Chief Ministers of both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to reach at consensus as nothing could be done unilaterally there.
“Both the states are big...Promises made in the Act will be fulfilled in letter and spirit,” Singh said, while requesting that this issue should not be politicised.
The Home Minister assured the House that the interests of the Telugu-speaking people would be protected.
Earlier, the former PM and Congress leader Manmohan Singh said he had made a “solemn commitment” on the floor of the House as prime minister of India on February 20, 2014.
The assurance on special category status to the “successor state” of Andhra Pradesh was given after discussing the issue with Arun Jaitley, then Leader of Opposition in the Upper House, and other senior BJP leaders, Singh said.
“Commitments made on the floor of the House are to be honoured and fulfilled. They are in the nature of an assurance on behalf of Parliament.
“I had expected my distinguished successor to fulfil the commitment I had made after consultation with his own colleagues,” the former Prime Minister said.
Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said the Centre “has an open mind. We are willing to consider in a rationale manner how these issues can be resolved so that the the letter and spirit is adhered to.”
“The purpose is that the people of AP should get benefit and that the Modi government is fully committed to. ... Don’t go by the letter, go by the spirit of the arrangement,” he said, adding that the state would not have got any extra fund through the special category status.
Stating that the state has been provided with Rs 22,000 crore as revenue deficit grant, he said: “If we were to rework all the schemes on 90:10 (ratio) as per special category status, then this revenue deficit grant would have come down by about Rs 17,500 crore”.
During the debate, the TDP and other opposition parties also demanded that the BJP-led government should honour its assurances in letter and spirit by granting special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Modi government should fulfill the promises made by it as well as the estwhile UPA dispensation. He also warned that there could be a privilege motion against the NDA government if this was not done.
However, BJP member G V L Narasimha Rao defended the government saying the Centre has fulfilled most of the promises made to Andhra Pradesh and accused the TDP of “misleading its own people.”
Initiating the debate, TDP leader Y S Chowdary said the “hasty and unscientifically prepared and politically motivated decision of the undivided Andhra Pradesh” had caused agony to the people of the state.
“The frustration and helplessness of the people of AP has serious implication for the future of the country as it rightly aspires to find its due place,” he said.
He claimed that the government has “blatantly” violated the provisions of the Constitution and neglected the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.
Chowdary also alleged that the NDA government has “carefully orchestrated a misinformation campaign against the state with regard to special category status and central assistance given under the so called special package.”
He also accused the Modi government of “willfully burying” the Union Cabinet’s decision in respect of special category status to the state and said there was a “huge dichotomy in the words and deeds” of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
“This demonstrates the failure on part of the government in implementing the Act passed by both the Houses, though four years have lapsed.” he said.
Leaders of SP, Trinamool Congress, RJD, BJD, AIADMK and TRS also supported the demand.
First Published: Jul 24, 2018 22:16 IST