VIJAYAWADA : The Centre on Tuesday reiterated that it had no plans of granting special category status (SCS) to any state, including AP.
Minister of State for Planning Rao Inderjit Singh was responding to a calling attention motion in the Rajya Sabha moved by Congress leader KVP Ramachandra Rao who had demanded that the Centre convene a meeting of the National Development Council (NDC) to discuss the topic.
Opposition parties were not satisfied with the Minister’s reply and staged a walkout. They had earlier tried to corner the NDA government for doing away with the subsidies sanctioned to States with SCS.
Commencing the discussion, Ramachandra Rao pointed out that it was the responsibility of the Centre to ensure that the promises made in Parliament were implemented.
“Even if there has been a change of guard at the Centre, the government cannot wash its hands from a unanimous resolution taken by Rajya Sabha,” he asserted. He said the Centre was blaming the 14th Finance Commission for denying SCS to AP despite the latter making no such objection.
Former Minister Jairam Ramesh demanded that the Prime Minister and Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu explain the reasons for backtracking from the assurances given by the Centre in Parliament. “When the Centre can take forward initiatives such as Aadhaar and GST conceived by the Manmohan Singh government, what is the problem in according SCS to AP?” he said.
AICC general secretary and AP affairs in-charge Digvijay Singh said Modi, Venkaiah and Naidu, during a public meeting in Tirupati had taken oath before Lord Venkateswara to accord 15 years of SCS to AP after coming to power.
YSRC MP Vijaya Sai Reddy said the Centre was not doing justice to AP. Congress MP T Subbarami Reddy pointed out that after bifurcation, AP had lost a huge chunk of revenue accrued from Hyderabad and the onus of compensating for the losses fell on the Centre.
Telangana MPs K Keshava Rao (TRS) and Rapolu Ananda Bhaskar (Congress) also extended their support to the issue raised by their Andhra Pradesh counterparts and demanded that the Centre implement its promise to grant SCS. Anand Bhaskar also wanted the Centre to recognise the Pranahitha-Chevella project in Telangana as a national project.
CPI MP D Raja pointed out that the Centre had accorded SCS to 11 states and that granting the same to Andhra Pradesh should not be a problem. He said then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced special category status for Andhra Pradesh during discussions on the AP Reorganisation Act, only after BJP leaders led by M Venkaiah Naidu insisted on it.
Responding to the attack by Opposition leaders, Rao Inderjit Singh suggested that instead of criticising the Central government for not giving special category status, they should go to their respective states and ensure fiscal discipline and develop their states by using the extra `1.78 lakh crore given to them by the Centre through the Planning Commission to deal with their fiscal needs.
Further, the Minister said the basic principle for according special category status to a state was the approval from the NDC which was endorsed the same for 11 states earlier. “As far as Andhra Pradesh is concerned there was no endorsement, approval from the NDC. We are not giving special category status to Andhra,” he clarified. He blamed the then UPA government for not asking the NDC to approve the status for Andhra Pradesh.
The NDC was a body meant to look after the developmental issues of nation and states including the special category status to states for plan assistance during the regime of Planning Commission which has been abolished by the NDA government.