Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, who walked out of the NDA government in 2018 over the demand of special category status for the state, has received support on the issue from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs.
The panel is learnt to have recommended in its draft report that the commitment made by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the floor of the House to grant special status to the state must be honoured.
Sources told The Indian Express that the report could not be taken up for adoption as its hard copy was “circulated this morning” and the members of the committee “wanted time to consider the report”. Sources said the “consideration was therefore deferred” and another meeting “will be called in about 10 to 14 days”.
It is learnt that the committee mentioned in the draft report that then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had assured in Rajya Sabha on February 20, 2014 that special status will be granted to the new state of Andhra Pradesh for five years. Such an assurance, the committee is learnt to have noted, must be carried out within three months from when it was made and must be considered “sacrosanct”. It is learnt that the panel has “strongly” recommended that Andhra Pradesh be given special category status and provided all benefits attached to it for a period of five years.
Naidu on Monday staged a daylong fast in Delhi to demand special category status for Andhra Pradesh. The fast became a rallying point for Opposition leaders, with leaders of the Congress, SP, AAP, National Conference, TMC, NCP, JD(S) and even Shiv Sena reaching Andhra Bhavan to express solidarity with Naidu.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in March 2018 that the government was “committed to giving monetary equivalent of a special status to Andhra Pradesh” but cannot grant special status as the 14th Finance Commission had done away with the categorisation.
Disagreeing with this argument, the committee is learnt to have said that though the Union government had said that the 14th Finance Commission did not distinguish between special category and general category states for suggesting the “post-devolution revenue deficit grants”, the Andhra Pradesh’s government contested that the Finance Commission’s recommendation is restricted to funds devolution. Agreeing with the state government, the Parliamentary Standing Committee is learnt to have concluded in its draft report that the Finance Commission did not recommend “abolition” of the system of “granting special category status” to some states.
The committee, chaired by Congress leader P Chidambaram has 30 members.Of them, 11 are from BJP and four from Congress. It also includes three Andhra members — two belonging to TDP and one to YSR Congress. There is one TRS member from Telangana.
Naidu meets President
New Delhi: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Tuesday met President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan and raised the demand for special status for his state among others. “We met the President and apprised him of our demands. The central government has ignored the Andhra Pradesh bifurcation Act promises. Modi government is passing the time without releasing grants to the state,” Naidu said at a press conference. —ENS