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TDP, opposition to raise Andhra special category status issue in Parliament

Andhra opposition leader and YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy said his party MPs would quit on April 6 if the Centre did not grant the state special status by then.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2018 15:07 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Andhra Pradesh,Andhra special category status,Parliament
YSR Congress party rally in Andhra Pradesh’s Prakasam district demanding special category status for the state, on Thursday.(HT Photo)

The demand by Andhra Pradesh for a special category status, which the Centre has described as a closed chapter, is snowballing into a major political issue ahead of the next year’s assembly elections with the ruling TDP and other opposition parties threatening to stall Parliament’s budget session from Monday.

The main opposition YSR Congress party has taken up the issue as a matter of prestige and self-respect for the people of the state. It organised protest rallies on Thursday in all district headquarters demanding the Centre grant the status to Andhra Pradesh.

Its president YS Jaganmohan Reddy, who completed 100 days of “Prajasankalpa Yatra” on Wednesday, suspended the marathon foot march for a day to take part in the protests at Cheemakurthi in Prakasam district.

He said his party MPs will disrupt the budget session of Parliament to highlight this demand.

“We shall give one month’s time to the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government to announce the status. If there is no response from the Centre, our MPs would resign from their parliamentary membership en masse on April 6 and take a plunge into the direction again,” he said.

Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party, an alliance partner of the NDA that accepted the offer for a special financial package in lieu of the special category status, has now been forced to revive the demand.

Read | Jagan says YSR Congress MPs will quit on April 6 for Andhra’s special category status

The ruling party’s legislators are also planning to stall Parliament to raise the pitch for the special category status, apart from demanding the fulfilment of other promises made in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.

“We agreed for a special financial package only after the Centre said the 14th finance commission had not approved the special category status to any state and that it would extend all the financial benefits to the state that would have accrued to the state had it been given the special status,” Naidu said during a meeting of the party’s coordination committee held in Amaravati on Tuesday.

“We waited for two years and the promised assistance under special package has not been given in full,” he added.

The chief minister was caught in an embarrassing situation after the Centre in August last year extended the special category status to the northeast and Himalayan states for a period of 10 years. It also announced the refund of the central share of Goods and Services Tax (GST) to the industrial units in these states by earmarking Rs 27,413 crore for the till March 31, 2017.

“But the NDA government extended the same to these states just because there are elections. Now, we too demand the special category status to AP. It is natural justice,” Naidu said.

Other political parties such as the Congress and Jana Sena Party headed by actor Pawan Kalyan have also been organising meetings to make the special category status a political issue in the next elections.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, the ally of the TDP, however, criticised Naidu for turning back on his decision.

“How can Naidu take a U-turn and demand the special category status when he has already accepted the assistance under special financial package? This is nothing but petty politics,” BJP state general secretary Vishnuvardhan Reddy said.

What is special category status?

States with hilly and difficult terrain, low population density, strategic locations along borders, economic and infra backwardness and non-viable nature of state finances get the status.

Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir have been accorded the status.

First Published: Mar 01, 2018 15:07 IST