Arguments- For and against special category status to Andhra Pradesh & futile No Confidence Motion

The recent No-Confidence motion moved on the NDA-Govt at the Centre by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP)-led- Andhra Pradesh M.Ps, was an exercise in futility. The discussion in the Parliament was on A.P. State Re-Organisation Act-2014. However, the TDP tried to highlight its fetish for Special Category Status (SCS) to Andhra Pradesh. But the special status, got mired in arguments with the Centre in a substantiative special package/assitance proposed by it. The BJP led- NDA government had won the confidence-vote handsomely on 20th July, i.e beginning of current session (of July-Aug, 2018) in the Lok Sabha. The defeat, though anticipated and expected by the A.P Govt, given the might of the Central Govt, it had demoralised the TDP for the strident stand it had taken vis-à-vis the Centre.

The TDP, being the largest beneficiary (compared to Telangana Rastra Samithi-TRS) for aligning with the BJP at Centre all through for four years, had cut off its lifeline of late with the Centre only for not granting Special Category Status to A. P. Otherwise they would not have had any tangible issues to differ with. The ‘Majority versus Morality’ issue raised after the debacle by the C.M of A.P did not stand to reason. It’s a non-sequitur.

It does not augur well for Chandra Babu Naidu to make a sweeping statement (Majority Vs Morality) that infers being in the majority in itself defies morality. Having morality means being on a minority side, and therefore being a sufferer. In any Parliamentary democracy the numerical strength matters. The whole episode of Special Category Status to A.P was a re-ignition by Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRCP for its existence and relevance in the states’ polity. Pawan Kalyan of Jana Sakthi Party followed suit. No doubt it is an emotive issue to Andhras. These two parties’ hue and cry for the SCS has been well-received by all Andhraites. That tempted Chandra Babu Naidu to take the similar stance. That’s the reason why the PM in his speech on no-confidence motion said that Chandra Babu fell into the snare laid down by the YSRCP.

All through these four-years (2014-’18), Naidu used the Centre like a milch cow to gain financial benefits. He did not utter a single word against Special Package granted by the Centre in lieu of SCS in 2016 when it was announced. In fact, he promoted that package deal to the people of A.P to the hilt. He took up the national irrigation project- Polavaram into his hands, as it had massive fund allocation, despite the Central Government’s insistence to be built by them. He messed up the financial supplies by not spending them for intended purposes, is a fact and also a revelation by the Enforcement Directorate.

All the five southern states i.e the Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh vie with one another to get corporates and industrialists to invest in their states. They also develop the infrastructure and try to fulfill the aspirations of the people by incentivising and by giving sops to the needed. The Anna canteens started by the TDP serve food at cheaper price for the down-trodden. Similarly, farm-loans waivers, agricultural loans, oldage-pension- increase (in tune with the inflation) etc though populist measures, are necessary schemes that cause revenue-deficit. The A.P Govt seeks Centre’s assistance to compensate the loss due to these subsidies as it being a newly-formed state. The Centre has been saying that it cannot compensate them for the reason that- one state formulation applies to all.

As Galla Jaydev, M.P from TDP said in his speech, the state A.P, competes with its contiguous states and compares with its immediate neighbours in the matters of development rather than the likes of some north or north-eastern states which are distant. So, it cannot be disqualified for SCS that has been given to north-eastern states, on the basis that the state A.P, is more developed than them, which is illogical. As a new state,with the loss of revenue generating Hyderabad city to Telangana, A.P; needs to be financially on the firmer-footing with the Centre’s granting of SCS, was his argument.

There is an impression in Andhra Pradesh that if special status is accorded, the state gets tax-benefit/exemption so that many industrialists would set-up their plants for the youth of Andhra to get jobs. It’s but natural for industrialists to flock around a tax-free state. Of course, that kind of status brings neighbours envy and owners pride.

The Prime Minister in his no -confidence motion speech assured A.P. of all help. However,he said that three-years ago, in the same Parliament-House, it was Veeraappa Moily, the tall Ex-Congress Minister and the M.P now from Karnataka opposed granting Special Category Status to A.P by saying that it would bring inequity and inequality among all other southern states. If such is the case, how can the Congress promise and ensure now to award SCS to Andhra Pradesh? Would it forgo its voters in Karnataka? The people of Andhra Pradesh had been very loyal to the Congress until it bifurcated the state. The Andhraites were simply jettisoned by the Congress for want of Telangana votes, which anyway they could not muster. As the P.M stated in no-confidence move, the Congress just botched up the whole bifurcation of A.P and Telangana states, as it did with the partition of the country into two, India and Pakistan.

The CM of A.P. Chandra Babu is known for his flip-flops. It is said that he was instrumental in advancing the parliamentary-elections in 2004. For, he was attacked by Naxals when he was travelling in Tirupati-Tirumala ghat road near the Alipiri junction. Luckily, he escaped the attempt on his life and gained sympathy from all. So, he called for elections of the Centre to take place along with the state of A.P then. In that elections, both in state and at Centre, the NDA lost power to the Congress-led UPA. It was indeed a bad move. However, for the loss he blamed the BJP to be the cause and had sworn that he would never associate with it any longer. Next in 2009 elections, Chandra Babu joined hands with CPI and CPM but could not gain power. Then realisation dawned on him to associate with the BJP once again under Modi-leadership to win the elections of 2014.

The BJP’s loss of two recent by-elections in Utter Pradesh (Khairana and Phoolpur) in the hands of combined opposition and also its defeat in Gorakhpur made Chandra Babu emboldened. He, taking cue from some media groups, came to the conclusion that the BJP was no more a force to reckon with and he could withdraw his support to fight the electoral battle of 2019 on his own merit.

Every leader of BJP, be it Rajnath Singh– the Home Minister, Piyush Goyal– the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister agreed that Andhra Pradesh was not fairly dealt with in bifurcation process and the newly-formed state needed Centre’s support. They ensured a splendid package and assured to carry out all the state re-organisational promises. In this scenario, it appears that Chandra Babu Naidu snapped the ties with the BJP without much fore-thought. Not only that, ever since he withdrew the support, he and his party cadre began excoriating the BJP and its top leadership in the public glare. It is difficult now to bridge the chasm between the two.

In the picture unfolding now, the Congress, desperate to get back Andhra voters to its fold, is promising SCS- including other privileges guaranteed by the House in Feb-2014, during the UPA regime by then P.M Man Mohan Singh. The BJP has been saying the 14-Finance Commission has not discriminated special and general category states in the matter of  fund-allocation. The BJP leaders also said (while speaking on no-confidence motion) that they care people of A.P. and that there was no constraint for funding and they were committed in letter and spirit to implement whatever was given in the state re-organisation plan.

The YSRCP and Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sakthi Party stated categorically that they would only align with a party at Centre that would grant special status to A.P. Now, the Congress having promised the status, it may not be an untouchable to them. Moreover, YSRCP-a splinter group of the Congress, has a natural affinity towards it. Similarly, the voters of the BJP and the TDP are akin in emotions tastes and feelings. The coming together of the TDP and BJP is a saving grace to both the parties. The special package as per the Centre, includes a Railway-zone, roads, ports, educational institutions etc; are all beneficial to the state. The youth of A.P. would get primier academic bodies like the  IITs, IIMs, AIAMs and industries of repute to pursue their jobs/ careers. All in all, the state will definitely prosper. It is for the good of both parties (TDP&BJP) to bury the hatchet and move on.

Sources:

TDP’s Ram Mohan Naidu:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCxDhyvhNqk&feature=youtu.be

Shri. Shrujana Chowdary-TDP: https://youtu.be/1C01cjkNI38

Shri. C M Ramesh Speech-TDP: in Telugu https://youtu.be/fBP9gTck1y0

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