Andhra Pradesh special status deadlock explained: In law vs emotions, here’s why BJP-TDP can’t agree

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Updated: Mar 09, 2018 2:25 PM

Andhra Pradesh special status deadlock explained: The question arises that if TDP's demand is invalid, on what ground is Chandra Babu Naidu's TDP demanding it? Or, if it was promised earlier, why can't it be dispensed now?

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In a move that has put the alliance on the edge, the Telugu Desam Party has pulled out its ministers from the central cabinet. On the other hand, BJP ministers in Andhra Pradesh have also submitted their resignation in a tit-for-tat reaction. While Andhra Pradesh says that it has only been demanding what it was promised at the time of bifurcation, BJP-led Centre says that the demand is constitutionally invalid. The question arises that if the demand is invalid, on what ground is Chandra Babu Naidu’s TDP demanding it? Or, if it was promised earlier, why can’t it be dispensed now?

Here’s an explanation through some basic questions:

Is there really a mention of Special Status under Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014?

The answer to this question is no. Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 has no mention that the state will be given a special category status. It only mentions that Central will extend finances to fill any kind of resource gap. However, during a debate in Rajya Sabha, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said that “Special Category Status” will be extended to the successor state of Andhra Pradesh for a period of five years”. This however, was not incorporated in the legislation.

The exact mentions in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, reads: “the Central Government may, having regard to the resources available to the successor State of Andhra Pradesh, make appropriate grants and also ensure that adequate benefits and incentives in the form of special development package are given to the backward areas of that State…”

In a press conference, FM Arun Jaitley, under whose ministry the issue falls, said that 14th Finance Commission has barred the dispensation of special category status to Andhra Pradesh.

What does the 14th Finance Commission recommend?

The 14th Finance Commission, a body that defines financial relations between the Centre and state, has changed certain norms for the period between 2015-2020. As per new norms, awarding ‘special category’ status for states, except for the Northeastern and three hill states, has been abolished.

What happens under Special Status category ?

Under Special Status, a state is awarded 90 per cent funds on centrally run schemes against 60 per cent as those for other states. Interestingly, the Centre has said that it is ready to dispense 90 per cent of funds but can’t award special category as the same is not permissible under law.

How can Centre dispense more funds? What is the TDP’s problem if they anyways getting benefits under special category?

In meeting with Chandrababu Naidu, Arun Jaitley has offered central is willing to provide the “monetary equivalent” of a special category state. The FM has agreed to fund all externally aided projects in Andhra Pradesh in the 90:10 ratio.

Contesting this, the TDP says that its bid to get “special status” is an emotional and sentimental issue for state’s citizens. The TDP claims that BJP had supported special category status when it was in Opposition. Speaking to media after submitting resignation, TDP MP Y S Chowdary said that Telugu sentiments and emotions have been hurt and only special category status can assuage them.

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