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A political betrayal

A political betrayal
Highlights

The Government of India, despite the empty talk of politicians in power, makes it amply clear that there shall be no special status for any State. Even the Union Finance Minister has earlier remarked that granting of special status is not possible as the 14th Finance Commission has restructured sharing of central funds with States.

The Government of India, despite the empty talk of politicians in power, makes it amply clear that there shall be no special status for any State. Even the Union Finance Minister has earlier remarked that granting of special status is not possible as the 14th Finance Commission has restructured sharing of central funds with States.

It’s true the 14th Finance Commission has recommended the new formula. It’s also true the Planning Commission, which has been the author of special category states, no longer exists. But, it’s equally true the assurance of special status to the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh was given much before the 14th Finance Commission made its recommendations and the Niti Aayog replaced the Planning Commission.

More so, the assurance was given to Parliament by the then Prime Minister in response to the debate on the State Reorganisation Act based on the Article 3 of the Constitution. The Section 107 of the Act states that the provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any other law.

But, the Centre argues that the special status is not part of the Act. It conveniently blames the Congress for not including it in the Act. But, the BJP deserves equal blame. Knowing fully well that it was not part of the Act, the BJP–TDP combine offered it to the Andhra electorate as their main poll promise.

The Centre is technically correct. The offer of special status was only a Parliamentary assurance but not a legislative provision.The two may be technically different. But, politically both are the same. It was a Parliamentary assurance. The Centre cannot escape under the guise of technicalities. Denial of special status to Andhra Pradesh is a political betrayal by the NDA for which it will have to pay a political price.

The BJP’s indifference is because it has no big political stakes in Andhra. Instead, the party has a lot at stake in Odisha and Bihar which are also demanding special category status . Any positive move on Andhra would invite an intense demand from other two States and denying the latter would be politically damaging for the BJP in those States.

That too when polls are round the corner. The asymmetry between the BJP and the TDP in the ruling combine incapacitates the Chandrababu Naidu dispensation from raising the demand with greater strength. The principal opposition party has its own share of reasons for lukewarm approach on this crucial demand.

Any hostility with the Centre may invite new problems for its leader who faces serious charges. He cannot forget the experience during the UPA regime. The YSRCP does not rule out joining the NDA bandwagon in case the relation between the BJP and the TDP turns bitter. The Congress lacks credibility as it failed to include special status in the Act when it authored the Reorganisation Act. Thus, the interests of Andhra Pradesh are held hostage to strategic compulsions of political parties.

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