Rajya Sabha discusses special status to Andhra Pradesh


File Photo of Rajya Sabha

File Photo of Rajya Sabha

The TDP and other opposition parties, on Tuesday, asked the BJP-led government to honour its assurances in letter and spirit by granting special category status to Andhra Pradesh, as the BJP accused it of misleading its own people.

Participating in a short duration discussion in the Rajya Sabha on non-implementation of the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Act, 2014, Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Narendra 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, making his maiden speech in the House, 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 Chowdhary 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 and listed out nine reasons due to which for future of people of the state to be in “dark”.

He claimed that the government has “blatantly” violated the provisions of the Constitution and neglected the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.

He 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.”

Chowdhary accused the 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 Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 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 added.

Attacking the government for recent lynching incidents, Chowdhary said “lynching is the flavour of the season in our country now and there has been widespread concern over it. People of my state feel there is a centrally sponsored lynching going on against them.”

“What is the offence committed by the people of AP. The offence is that they believed the Centre and the BJP for four long years,” he said.

He said that Article 4 of the Constitution clearly stipulated that if any state is bifurcated, the supplemental, incidental and consequential measures can be taken by the Parliament.

“AP is a fit case for such intervention. But what is happening, Sir. The government has refused our demand of amending the AP Reorganisation Act to address the vagueness of language contained regarding development and assistance to the state,” Chowdary said.

“Instead the government is taking cover under such vague expression of the act to suit their mindset against the state,” he said, adding that the decision of the Union Cabinet of March 1, 2014 conferring special category status to AP has been “ignored”.

He also said that the Prime Minister had during the election campaign, “not once but thrice publicly assured the people of Andhra Pradesh” that the state will be given special category status not for five years but for 10 years, whereas congress had promised for 5 years.

“This demonstrated the disconnect between the words and deeds of Modi. It is a matter of serious concern not only for people of AP, but for the country as well,” he said.

Alleging that the Centre does not have trust on the state government, TDP leader said, “Under the presidential rule, AP government projected revenue deficit of Rs 16,078 crore and AG had upheld this figure. But members of the house would be surprised to know that the PMO in its wisdom reduced (amount) drastically to Rs 4,117 crore without explaining any reasons.”

“Is the PMO meant to examine the expenditure report of state and decide on them? Where are we going if there is no trust on state government? This House needs to know,” he added.

Attacking the government for misleading campaign being orchestrated, Chowdhary said “unashamedly and in utter disregard to the facts, the government is misleading the media that the 14th Fiannce Commission has denied special category status. This is far from truth.”

On the contrary, then minister of planning Rao Inderjit in his reply to a question in Parliament on February 15 had said in the Upper House that the 14th Finance commission has not made any specific reference not to confer special category status to any state, he said.

“This House has the right to reprimand the government for this deliberate misinformation campaign and compromising with the honour of the house,” he said.

Chowdhary said, “it is new colonialism that we are tasting. It is a sad time for the new India of Modi’s dreams. This needs to be checked. It is the states which make the Union of India and not the BJP alone.”

Andhra Pradesh had estimated total resources of Rs 1.5 lakh crore for various aspects of development. But the state has received only Rs 13,407 crore from the centre. “At this rate, it would take 44 years for central government to aid state government to stand on its own,” he said.

“I make fervent appeal to Modi and GoI to come to rescue of people of AP. AP ko bachao and AP ko badhao (Let AP be saved and let AP progress). Honour the deicsion of Union cabient to confer special status to the state,” he said.

Leader of the Oppostion Ghulam Nabi Azad said the state has been reorganised the fourth time in 2014. “How many times it has gone into metamorphosis. It has changed. The fourth time reorganisation took place in 2014.

They deserve full sympathy from the entire nation,” he said, and noted that AP has not got enough time to settle and create assets. He asked the Centre to extend support to Andhra Pradesh as it does not have the advantage of resources that the neighbouring Telanagana has.

“While bifurcating the state, then PM (Manmohan Singh) had promised special category status for five years. Many opposition leaders had said 10 years and not five years. The BJP said if it came to power, it will give special category status for 10 years,” he said, adding that these promises were not fulfilled.

“That promise is to be fulfilled. The present government has to be blamed. You walked extra mile and said 10 years. You have to fufill it,” Azad said. Highlighting promised projects that were not implemented, the Congress leader said “all commitments under the AP Reorganisation Act have not been addressed and it is unable to give special category status to AP. Sir, there will be a privilege against the government. I don’t know why they have not raised privilege so far.”

“Nothing has been implemented. This government is going before the Supreme Court and saying we have fulfilled all the promises. You are deceiving the nation. You have deceived Parliament’s decision and this government is deceiving the people of AP,” he said.

“I make a strong plea on behalf of the opposition that the promises made by previous government and the current government should be fulfilled forthwith,” he added.

BJP’s Narsimha Rao said a national investment and manufacturing zone had been sanctioned for the Prakasam area in Andhra Pradesh while of the four new industrial corridors approved, two passed through Andhra Pradesh.

He said a new city had been planned on the Chennai- Bengaluru corridor for which there had been delay on the part of the state government in acquiring the required land. The project would create upto six lakh jobs, he added.

Rao said the Vizag-Chennai corridor will create as many as 1.10 crore jobs. As some opposition members expressed disbelief at his claim, the BJP leader said he was quoting the Asian Development Bank which was preparing the perspective plan for the project. The jobs will be created by 2045, he said.

He said Andhra Pradesh had been given two National Investment and Manufacturing Zones and asked if all this was a sign of discrimination. Accusing the state government of not performing its part and only blaming the Centre, he said “You only want to do politics” and added that the ‘Polavaram’ was ‘Modivaram’, in other words “a gift from Prime Minister Modi”.

He said the Centre had provided Rs 6,700 crore for the project but the state had been trying to claim credit for the initiatives of the union government. He said the value of projects sanctioned under the Sagarmala project was a staggering  Rs 1,63,537 crore.

“There is mass-scale propaganda and deception and what is being attempted is to mislead AP people for political expedience,” Rao claimed.

Maintaining that tax incentives were given to industrialists in Telangana as well as Andhra Pradesh, he asked “would you call this unjustice?”

He said “the state may not have been given the title (of special status) but had in reality received special focus”.

SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said the division of large states was not a good idea as they cemented the country. Andhra Pradesh was a large and successful state and its bifurcation has led to these problems, he said.

It is not necessary that a smaller state will make greater progress, he said adding Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand even witnessed naxal problem after they were created.

Yadav said Andhra Pradesh, after the bifurcation, needed support and the Centre should fulfill all the promises made. Promises had been made by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the present Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said.

AIADMK leader A Navneethkrishnan spoke of a downturn in grants being provided by the Centre to Tamil Nadu. TMC leader Derek O’Brien said the BJP was good at making promises and marketing but failed to implement its promises.

He said even BJP’s long term ally Shiv Sena has also expressed reservations. It is for the BJP to reflect, he said.

Taking a dig at Rao, O’Brien said his Aadhaar (base) was from New Delhi, but he was representing Uttar Pradesh in the House. But now, he was speaking for Andhra Pradesh.

He said Bengal was also not being provided sufficient funds. O’Brien also claimed that the TMC had tripled farmers’ income in the state in seven years while the Centre was struggling to fulfill its promise of doubling the income of the peasants.

Prasanna Acharya (BJD) supported the demand for special status to Andhra but added that Odisha too was a fit case for such a status. “We meet all conditions,” he asserted. Ram Chandra Prasad Singh JD(U) also added that Bihar too required special support. Bihar should also get the benefits the same day that Andhra Pradesh gets it, he said. Keshava Rao (TRS) said the promises made should be fulfilled.