The successor state of Andhra Pradesh is once again set to become a victim of short-sighted politics and lack of united political action, even as the last budget session of the Parliament during the NDA regime is scheduled to wind up in the next few days. The chances of the session taking up discussion on the no-trust motion on the Special Category Status (SCS) are bleak if the mood of the NDA government is any indication.
Polity in the state is a divided house at a time when an issue of utmost public importance like the special status warrants joint action. The leadership of the TDP and the opposition YSRCP are indulging in verbal abuses and personal attacks in their attempt to gain an upper hand in the political game. The principal parties indeed are expected to rise above political considerations and mend fences for the cause of their home state. The two parties issued separate notices to the Speaker on the no-confidence motion and ended up crossing swords.
âCM suffers a trust deficitâ
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu called for an all-party meeting on Tuesday. YSR Congress and Pawan Kalyanâs Jana Sena stayed away. The Left parties were present and averse to join hands with Naidu. But they all swore to fight for special status as separate entities. CPI (M) state secretary P Madhu said the CM suffers a trust deficit by sharing power with the NDA and that he should share the blame for the pitiable condition of the state.
Chandrababu backed out from the SCS demand and settled for the special package deal. His government used police force against protesters fighting for SCS and implicated many of them in cases. Madhu wanted an explanation from Naidu and demanded that the SCS activists be bailed out from cases as a condition for joint action.
Pawan tweeted that the all-party meeting was held by the CM only as part of a political strategy and suspected Naiduâs commitment. All opposition parties blamed the CM for failing to ensure timely action by bringing on board political parties and civil society organisations.
YSRCP MP Vijayasai Reddy was quoted in the media as having launched an attack on the CM using derogatory language. In protest, TDP workers burnt effigies of Reddy across the state. Thus, the special status issue became a slugfest between the rival parties.
In a fresh bid to push Naidu into a tight spot, YSRCP gave an ultimatum over the resignation of its MPs before April 6. TDP opposed the resignation move but refused to lag behind in the race. Naidu said at the all-party meeting that he was planning to stage a protest in front of the Parliament in the next 3-4 days. YSRCPâs Jagan Reddy had forced the TDPâs exit from the NDA by serving notices for no-confidence motion a few days ago.
The NDA regime is in a bind over realising the 19 bifurcation related assurances for AP. They include deficit financing, assistance for capital city, Polavaram irrigation project, delimitation of Assembly segments, special package for development of seven backward districts, special railway zone at Visakhapatnam, distribution of assets and institutions, and so on.
The expectations of the Andhra people on these assurances failed to come true even after four years of the NDA government. There are two reasons for this: firstly, the TDP failed to vigorously and militantly pursue the issue as an ally of the NDA. Secondly, the Leader of Opposition failed to play his role in the true sense as he continued to be soft on the NDA while training his guns on the TDP regime. His unsolicited support to the BJPâs candidates in the President and Vice-President elections lends credence to such a suspicion. In addition, Jagan hardly spent his energies towards turning the heat on the NDA.
In essence, the fate of AP is caught precariously in this blame game between the ruling and the opposition parties.
GS Prahlad, who led the Visalandhra Mahasabha comprising integrationists against the bifurcation, told TNM that the state became âorphanedâ on both the occasions â during and after the bifurcation. The political parties got bogged down in vote-catching politics and made people optionless, he lamented.
According to Prahlad, the Andhra region lost its bargaining power with the Centre in the process of division as it was bereft of visionary leadership. The parties down the line were split defending their regional interests while the leadership tilted heavily in favour of Telangana at that time of bifurcation, he recalled.
The inter-state disputes between the two sibling states over the sharing of Krishna and Godavari river water are also attributed to the failure by parties in power and in opposition to act as a pressure group against the Centre in drafting a pre-bifurcation framework of protocols.
Prof K Viyanna Rao, former Vice-Chancellor of Acharya Nagarjuna University, emphasised the need for the AP-based political parties to draw a lesson or two from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over safeguarding the interests of their respective states. He cited the Cauvery issue as a classic case for demonstration of a concerted political action in the two states.
Prof Rao lamented that such a show of unity from political parties was lacking miserably in Andhra Pradesh before and after the bifurcation, resulting in a raw deal from the Centre. Rao urged the political parties not to fish in troubled waters but close ranks and help recover the state from the bruises inflicted by the division.