In a move to justify the denial of Special Category Status (SCS) to Andhra Pradesh, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said that the Centre is already giving the financial benefits equivalent to the SCS through the special package.
The Finance Minister made the clarification responding to the protests by Andhra MPs in the Parliament demanding SCS be accorded to the state, and the imminent threat of the TDP breaking away from the BJP-led NDA.
Addressing the media in New Delhi, Jaitley said that at no stage the Centre had denied special package to Andhra Pradesh. “We never said that we won’t give the special package. We do believe that the state needs assistance and feel that AP is entitled to it.”
He claimed, “I have personally been very sympathetic to Andhra. Amount equivalent to special status will be given. Our offers have been repeated several times.” An explanation that is not likely to go down too well with the Andhra government.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu minced no words as he expressed his displeasure with the Centre while speaking in the state Assembly. Referring to Rahul Gandhi’s statement that he supports Andhra’s demand for Special Category Status, Chandrababu Naidu said in the Assembly on Wednesday, “When the party that made the mistake (bifurcation) itself is agreeing with the need for a special status, why is the Union government not ready?”
“We have lost a lot due to the bifurcation. There is a huge responsibility on the central government to make up for that loss,” he said.
Unhappy with the way the BJP-led government has treated him over the issue, the CM said, “Not once, not twice, I have gone to Delhi 29 times,” seemingly setting the tone for the inevitable divorce.
Naidu recalled PM Modi’s promise after the bifurcation of the united AP, where he had said that Congress has saved the baby but killed the mother, whereas he would have saved them both. Referring to it, Naidu said. “I am asking when you are promising justice, why don’t you fulfill the promises made in the bifurcation Act?”
Naidu also said, “Don’t penalize the state that generates more revenue.”
A delegation of TDP MPs met the Finance Minister on Tuesday, and were left displeased as Jaitley categorically stated that there was no question of a Special Category Status to AP.
As the dialogue between the delegation and the Minister didn’t resolve the issue, the TDP MPs continued their protests against the Centre at Parliament on Wednesday.