‘Size of pie limited’, Centre hints Andhra Pradesh special status unlikely

Promise to grant special status post-bifurcation was made by then PM Manmohan Singh, govt now seeing what has to be done, Arun Jaitley tells Rajya Sabha.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: July 30, 2016 1:28 am
Arun Jaitley, Digvijaya Singh, Manmohan Singh, Anand Sharma, andhra pradesh, andhra pradesh special status, ap special status, andhra, andhra speacial status, rajya sabha, india news Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told Rajya Sabha Friday that the Central government will “handhold” the revenue-deficit state to enable it to progress on its own. (Source: File/PTI)

DESPITE DEMANDS from several parties, including ally Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and even a Union Minister of State from the party, to grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh, the NDA government remained non-committal on the issue.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, however, told Rajya Sabha Friday that the Central government will “handhold” the revenue-deficit state to enable it to progress on its own.

“Dissatisfied” by the Finance Minister’s reply, Congress members, led by Digvijaya Singh and Anand Sharma, staged a walkout.

Responding to a discussion on ‘Status of implementation of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014’, Jaitley told the Upper House that the government is committed to keeping all its promises and will fulfill all responsibilities as far as hand-holding Andhra Pradesh was concerned. He said promise to grant special status was not part of the 2014 Act but was made by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the floor of the House. The government, he said, is now seeing what has to be done.

He added: “For some period, Andhra Pradesh needs hand-holding. The Centre will fulfill all responsibilities it has towards hand-holding Andhra to (help it) reach a level where it can be on its own.”

TDP leader and MoS Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Y S Chowdary interrupted Jaitley to seek a resolution by the House for time-bound implementation of promises made by the previous UPA government. This prompted Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to say that it is “very unusual” to see intervention by a minister when another minister is replying to a discussion.

Chowdary held the BJP and Congress “equally responsible” for the “half-baked, unscientific and undemocratic Bill” that led to the bifurcation. He reminded the House that both Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu had demanded special status for AP to be extended to 10 years, as against five years promised by Manmohan Singh.

Jaitley appeared to be explaining the difficulty in granting special status while noting that such a status means 90 per cent of expenditure of different schemes will be borne by the Centre, as against 60 per cent for other states. The Union government should not be left financially vulnerable, Jaitley said while contending that the economy has been “adversely” affected by global prices, two years of drought, the Seventh Pay Commission, and One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme for defence pensioners, among other factors. “The size of the cake is limited; the size of the pie is limited,” he said.

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According to the minister, under the new Finance Commission’s architecture, the bifurcated Andhra Pradesh will get over Rs 2.06 lakh crore for 2015-20 against Rs 64,575.30 crore that it would have received otherwise.

Thota Seetharama Lakshmi of TDP said, “We are asking for what we rightly deserve.”

CPI’s D Raja said people of the new state are agitated but the Central government is running away from assurances given by the previous government. In response, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, “Nobody is running away. Some solution has to be found.”

Cautioning that the issue could “inflame” and “ignite” passions, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury said a “conflict has arisen because of assurance given here (in the House). How do we settle that? A way has to be found out. I urge the government to work out a mechanism to resolve this issue.”

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  1. J
    Jul 30, 2016 at 12:35 pm
    South Indian Nostradamus about 2020: Nothing but the truth….lt;br/gt;1. Chandra Babu Naidu’s TDP corruption will hit the ceiling. It will be worse than Congress corruption.lt;br/gt;2. Union Minister, Sujana Choudhury will try a lot to sacrifice AP special status BUT HE WILL BE ARRESTED FOR HIS BANK FRAUD CASE OF MALDIVES. AP people will know he is only a self centered Choudhury not fit to be a leader.lt;br/gt;3. Jagan will unite with Congress. Congress will be forgiven by AP people for making amends and since they have been punished once by people. You don't punish people TWICE for the same mistake.lt;br/gt;4. Chandra Babu will lose both AP and Telangana.lt;br/gt;5. There will be hung or minority government in Andra in 2020.lt;br/gt;6. BJP will lose the few seats they won in Andra and they will be bed as the “ North Indian Cheating Party” , as thought before in South.lt;br/gt;7. Owing to Chandra Babu, TDP and his community corruption, North Andra and Royalseema will ask to be broken away from AP, as Vijayawada gets everything.lt;br/gt;8. People of Andra will fight among themselves and become poorer than Biharis…will officially replace Bihar in the ranking as worst in everything…AP will TOP THE LIST as "CASTE CRAZY MONKEYS”lt;br/gt;9/ People will realise the TDP Community will sell the state to earn money for themselves.lt;br/gt;10. BJP will not be allowed in Andra and will be called North Indian Cheaters Party, as thought of for the last 30 years.
    1. K
      Aug 1, 2016 at 9:33 am
      dream on - will never vote congress or YCP
      1. R
        Jul 31, 2016 at 12:10 am
        If the size of pie is limited, why did you support the division Mr Jaitley???? Did we ask you to divide our state??? Such a shame on you and BJP that you cant keep your own promises.. Congress lost miserably due to credibility issues.. Now, if Modi and BJP cant keep their promises, their credibility is at stake.. Of course, Andhra people will show their action during next elections..
        1. Anand Ch
          Jul 30, 2016 at 2:09 am
          What Mr.Jaitley has spoken for a hour, has just gone over the heads and only thing every one remembers is AP state is in for major financial mess. While center is taking cover behind paltry grants, the major expenses remain unanswered. Talk of 2 lakh crore is as confusing as special status. When will AP receive such funds ? Ambitious plans of AP have to be shelved and if they can pay ries regularly, that would be a miracle..