All the parties in Andhra Pradesh, that is, the ruling (TDP) and the opposition (YSRCP and INC) and the newly formed Jana Shakthi (actor Pawan Kalyan’s Party) are striking for the Special Status (SS) for A.P, a newly formed state, a truncated one from united Andhra Pradesh which had held quite a huge – 42 MPs in the Parliament earlier and carried more weight than any state in the South.
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in coalition with 6- BJP MLAs has ruled the state for four years. Now they are separated. The reason? Not granting Special Status to the state A.P which is weakened by bifurcation consequent to the loss of revenue-earning powerful Hyderabad city to Telangana.
Special Status was guaranteed both by the BJP and the Congress in the Parliamentary debate during the bifurcation. The BJP went one step ahead and asked for 10-year period instead of usual 5-years. The PM now, Sri Modi, had promised in the pre-election rally of 2014 that he would certainly grant the much- needed Special Status for the beleaguered A.P. One need not keep all the political promises one does as a candidate in pre-election rallies. Political parties do not run governments purely going by the words given in the manifesto. However, some promises which are tied to deep sentiments haunt them.
The Modi government should have kept this promise of awarding Special Status soon after coming to the power in 2014 to A.P. But they made delay. Delays cause damages. The Planning Commission was scrapped. In its place NITI- Aayog has come into place. The Centre is explicit in stating after the formation of NITI-Aayog, there is no place for Special Status to any state and only Special Package could be given.
For one or two years the TDP agreed and carried the Special Package award on its shoulders. Later it saw the opposition parties i.e the Y S Rajasekhar Reddy Congress Party (YSRCP) and Pawan Kalyan’s Jan Shakthi (JS) vociferously campaigning for a Special Status. So, the TDP did not want to be lagging behind in this emotive issue of Andhras and joined the band wagon. Moreover, the TDP by that time was mired in economic impropriety. The funds allocated by the Centre for building the new capital, Amaravati and Polavaram- Project Dam were clearly misused. The Enforcement Directorate (EC) found fault with the TDP government for not having transparency in spending.
Chandra Babu Naidu’s government seems opaque in money matters. Naidu is not Mr Clean. His voters and BJP voters are the same with no differentiation. Right now, he is wooing all the majorities i.e the Hindus to his fold by making parochial comments and vilifying PM Modi. The Central BJP, being busy with Karnataka election, is not paying due attention to what is going-on in A.P.
After Karnataka, it needs to concentrate on Andhra Pradesh. CM Naidu is of the view that the BJP needs him in the state, not the other way round. He is ignoring the fact that post-2014 elections, the BJP is echoing in the minds and hearts of people in Andhra. It is not a lesser known entity as earlier, in the southern part of Andhra.
To win in Andhra Pradesh the BJP has to adopt:
1. To confront with the TDP head-on, on issues of misuse of funds allocated by the Centre and on religious conversions that are happening on massive scale by the missionaries in A.P. The demography in the state is changing rapidly. CM Naidu’s so-called secular nature supports those fraudulent conversions. He is in no way inimical to them.
2. After the surge of the BJP Hindutva nationalism at the Centre, Naidu changed the tag now, to project himself a mighty Hindu, which he was otherwise averse to earlier. This should be exposed. In (Thirumal Tirupati Devasthanam) TTD-Balaji temple, he appointed Christians as Board members and as Chairman. Many have raised their voice on this issue and condemned it in Andhra. A Christian member of TTD, who happens to be a TDP-MLA, V. Anitha, recently on 23rd April resigned after severe protests by the Hindu bodies. So, Naidu is not a holy cow.
3. CM Naidu promised that he would fight for granting Dalit-Christians the status of SCs, which is unconstitutional. He cannot win Christian votes in Andhra with any amount of wooing as YSRCP’s founder himself is a Christian. The BJP should demand Naidu’s stand on Dalit-Christian reservation.
4. Apart from the above, the BJP should develop a clear programme on how to develop Andhra Pradesh. For, there are, right now, bandhs, protests and fasting (one recently on 20th April by Naidu himself on his birthday) and other innovative types solely for the purpose of progress and development of Andhra Pradesh, which in the view of Andhraites is stalled by the Centre by not granting Special Status. This sentiment has been strongly drilled into the people’s minds by the CM Naidu. This has to be dispelled totally.