Vijayawada (AP): Union Minister Haribhai Chaudhary's remark over special category status to Andhra Pradesh has evoked sharp reactions from across the political spectrum on Saturday, with Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu coming down heavily and terming it as "inappropriate".
"The union minister's statement on special category status is inappropriate. Not only should the Centre grant it but also
extend full financial support to Andhra Pradesh till it grows on par with other states in south India," Naidu said in a public meeting in Visakhapatnam on Saturday evening.
On his part, YSR Congress president and Leader of Opposition Y S Jaganmohan Reddy sought to blame the chief minister for the Centre's attitude on the special status issue, alleging that Naidu "sold out" the state's interests to the Centre.
Jana Sena party chief and actor Pawan Kalyan–who supported the TDP-BJP combine in the 2014 elections and played a crucial role in the victory–too reacted on the issue asking the TDP to fight for the special status in Parliament along with opposition parties "before people of the state take to the streets".
The Union Minister of State for Home had on Friday said in the Rajya Sabha that there was no need to grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
Congress, which raised the special status issue through a Private Member's Bill in Rajya Sabha on Friday, said the BJP betrayed the people of Andhra Pradesh by going back on the promise of granting special status.
Replying to a debate on the Private Member's Bill moved by Congress MP K V P Ramachandra Rao, Choudhary questioned the need for granting special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
"When the Centre is extending adequate financial assistance, where is the need for special status? The Centre is constantly reviewing what has been done so far and what has to be done further to AP," he added.
Reacting sharply to the remarks, Naidu on Saturday said that gross injustice was done to AP due to the bifurcation.
"M Venkaiah Naidu (now Union Urban Development minister) raised this issue in Rajya Sabha (as opposition member in February 2014) and demanded special category state status to AP. The then Prime Minister agreed to it, though it was not included in the AP Reorganisation Act-2014," the chief minister pointed out.
The Centre should lend a helping hand to AP till the "injustice is undone" and the state reached a level-playing field with other states in south India.
"I have been repeatedly pleading with the Centre on this issue. Not only the provisions in the (AP Reorganisation) Act, but also those that were not included in it should be fulfilled by the Centre," he said.
Referring to the union minister's claim that adequate financial assistance was being provided to AP, Naidu lamented that the Centre so far granted only Rs 2,500 crore as against the revenue deficit of Rs 16,000 crore.
"We need industrial incentives and Bundelkhand-type financial packages for the development of backward districts in the state. Polavaram multi-purpose irrigation project has to be completed by 2018. A new railway zone has to be established at Visakhapatnam," he said. The Jana Sena chief said in a tweet that he hoped the BJP should not commit any mistake by going back on its promise of according special status to Andhra.
"Exactly two years ago, the Congress necked out MPs of Seemandhra region from Parliament and committed a grave
mistake by splitting the state. People of the region neither forgot nor will forget that insult. I hope the BJP will not commit a similar mistake," Kalyan said.
"On behalf of Seemandhra people, I request the ruling party MPs to take their opposition colleagues along and fight (for special status) in Parliament before people take to the mstreets and launch an agitation," he added.
CPI state secretary K Ramakrishna said the Left parties would hold a meeting in Vijayawada on 2 May to chalk out the future course of action in the wake of the Centre's statement.
Meanwhile, YSRC president Jagan accused the chief minister of "deliberately watering down" the demand.
"He (Naidu) says special status is not a panacea. Now, the Central ministers are mustering courage to openly announce in Parliament that special status is not required for AP only because of Chandrababu's claims," Jagan lashed out.
Updated Date: May 01, 2016 09:08 AM