Naidu faces heat following PM's Bihar bonanza

Naidu faces heat following PMs Bihar bonanza
Hyderabad: Former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh with Andhra Pradesh Congress president Raghu Veera Reddy at a party meeting in Hyderabad on Friday. PTI Photo(PTI4_3_2015_000136A)

Hyderabad - Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Rs1.25 trillion bonanza for Bihar.



By P S Jayaram

Published: Thu 20 Aug 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 21 Aug 2015, 10:01 AM

The bonanza of Rs1.25 trillion announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Bihar has sent the political temperature soaring in Andhra Pradesh, the residuary state following the bifurcation to create Telangana last year.
Pressure is now mounting on AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu to secure an assurance from the NDA government on granting special status to the residuary state with the opposition parties deciding to step up the agitation over the issue of special category status citing the poll-eve Bihar bounty announced by the prime minister. The state had been promised special category status at the time of bifurcation in February last year but has not been delivered so far.
"Despite being an ally of the NDA, the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has failed to get special status for the state. We demand that the chief minister take the opposition parties into confidence and take up the fight with the centre," Andhra Pradesh Congress Chief N Raghuveera Reddy said on Wednesday.
The opposition party has been in a combative mood ever since the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi declared his support for the agitation demanding special status.
The demand has gained a sense of political urgency after the self-immolation of a Congress worker at the Tirupati rally recently, protesting against the delay in granting special status. The contradictory statements being made by BJP and TDP leaders on the issue have further complicated the issue.
The continued uncertainty and confusion over the promised special status has created a piquant situation for TDP as it faces a political embarrassment for having failed to convince the BJP central leadership about the need to bail out the cash-strapped state.
The AP Reorganisation Act, passed in February 2014 when the UPA was in power, had promised special state status for the residual AP after the state's division for a period of five years. However, there has been no progress on the issue during the last one year despite the TDP being part of the central government.
The special status was promised to residual AP, comprising Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions, by the then prime minister Manmohan Singh in February 2014 to put the state's finances on a "firmer footing". "We will provide for a special development package for the backward regions of the successor state of AP. The resource gap that may arise in the successor state in the very first year will be compensated in the regular Union Budget for 2014-15," Singh had assured.
With the Centre now dilly-dallying on the issue, the opposition parties in AP - Congress and YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) - have hits the streets blaming the TDP-BJP combine for denial of justice to the state grappling with financial constraints.
Facing mounting pressure from the opposition and also from within, Chandrababu Naidu asserted that his party and the government would continue to fight for special status. Pointing out that the division of AP was not done in an equitable manner by the previous UPA government, Naidu said that the demand for special status was meant to ensure justice to the state.
"Because developing the state is an uphill task, the Union Government must accord special status and also help the state to recover from a severe revenue deficit and extend full cooperation until it achieves a level-playing field," the chief minister said.
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