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Betrayal and cacophony

Betrayal and cacophony
Highlights

Betrayal and cacophony. The story of Special Status is a classic example of how parties display their utter contempt for people. YSRCP chief’s tirade is more on Chandrababu than on the Centre.

The story of Special Status is a classic example of how parties display their utter contempt for people. YSRCP chief’s tirade is more on Chandrababu than on the Centre. He is eager to drive a wedge between the BJP and the TDP. The TDP unilaterally claims Centre’s denial of Special Status to any State does not apply to AP. Its pusillanimity is unambiguously clear. BJP’s position is much more ludicrous. It is now taking cover behind technicalities.

It’s true the Special Status is not part of the Act. But, a Parliamentary assurance cannot be summarily dismissed. It’s a measure incidental to the Reorganisation Act as per Articles 3 and 4 of the Constitution. The BJP cannot absolve itself of responsibility. As for the Congress, it lacks locus standi. The people cannot forget that the Special Status was not part of the Act it authored.

The Andhra Pradesh political system seems to have suddenly woken up. The State witnessed a bandh on Tuesday. Everyone is now talking about the Special Status. The parties are indulging in a high decibel campaign to cover up their political betrayals. Leaders, who play with the emotions of the people, show scant regard when it comes to their welfare.

The story of Special Status is a classic example of how parties display their utter contempt for people. Each party finds fault with the other, ignoring its share of the culpability. An honest introspection is completely missing. The political parties are acting with remarkable alacrity to jump onto the Special Status bandwagon and reap maximum political mileage.

More recently, the YSR Congress Party staged a show in the national capital. But, an attempt to unite all the opposition forces was missing. The tirade was more on their immediate rival N Chandrababu Naidu, rather than the Modi regime that reneges on according the Special Status to the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh. Jaganmohan Reddy has failed to seize an opportunity.

He should have attempted a political cavalcade by rallying all those who oppose the Centre’s move to abrogate the concept of Special Category States. His predisposition is clear. He wants to strike, but not wound the BJP as the party sees a potential future ally in the saffron brigade. The YSR Congress is waiting in the wings to jump onto the NDA bandwagon in any eventuality of BJP-TDP break-up.

The political Halla Bol over Special Status is more aimed at widening the wedge between the ruling allies at least on the question of granting the Special Status to Andhra Pradesh. The TDP is caught in a typical Hamlet-like dilemma. The ‘To be or not to be’ syndrome haunting the TDP makes its leaders speak in multiple voices, often contradicting each other.

This is even after the Union government made it clear, that too in Parliament, that there would be no Special Status to any State. An absurd interpretation is recycled every day. The TDP unilaterally claims that the Centre’s statement does not apply to Andhra Pradesh. But, where is it mentioned? The State’s ruling party is chasing a mirage and thereupon hoodwinking the people.

The pusillanimity in the political orchestration is unambiguously clear. The TDP is unable to wriggle out of the situation and the BJP is in no mood to concede. It cannot ask people to forget and forgive. The BJP’s position is much more ludicrous. In fact, the party is the author of Special Status. The Modi-Naidu combine has extensively used the Special Status in its electioneering.

These two parties are primarily responsible for presenting the Special Status as panacea for all the travails of the truncated State in the post-bifurcation period. M Venkaiah Naidu was shown as a crusader for the cause. The principal opposition claimed credit for making the then Prime Minister give an explicit assurance in the Rajya Sabha. Manmohan Singh promised the Special Status for five years. Venkaiah Naidu demanded it for ten years.

The BJP-TDP promised 15 years special status to Andhra Pradesh. But today they stand exposed. The BJP’s arguments lack punch and credibility. The Planning Commission has ceased to exist. The 14th Finance Commission scrapped the Special Category States as it suggested a radically different fiscal transfer regime. The Special Status is not part of the Re-organisation Act. It’s only a Parliamentary assurance.

The Congress, which authored the bifurcation Act, is the first criminal here as it did not include the Special Status in the Act itself. Let’s carefully evaluate the arguments of Team Modi. It’s true the Congress is the first culprit. But, the BJP, which co-sponsored if not co-authored the Andhra Pradesh State Reorganisation Act, also deserves culpability. What prevented BJP from suggesting an amendment to the Act to include the Special Status during the debate in Parliament.

The transfer of Polavaram mandals was not part of the Act. But, the Modi Cabinet, in a rather clandestine manner, amended the Reorgansiation Act despite serious protest from Telangana. Why can’t it do the same on the question of Special Status, which does not invite any such opposition? It’s true that the Special Status is not part of the Act. But, a Parliamentary assurance cannot be summarily dismissed.

It’s a measure incidental to the Reorgansiation Act as per Articles 3 and 4 of the Constitution. The BJP cannot absolve itself of responsibility on the technical pretext. The Special Status does not have a constitutional sanction. It was introduced as a policy of the government. Its continuation in one form or the other is not a violation of any law or provision.

The Centre promises Andhra Pradesh more than what the Special Status can offer, says Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. This is nothing but a cruel hoax, given the experience of successor states ever since the new ruling dispensation assumed office in New Delhi. Many provisions of the State Reorganisation Act either remain unimplemented or had only half-hearted implementation.

They include assistance to build a capital, creating infrastructure in backward districts of Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra, bridging the budget deficit with additional allocations, tax and fiscal incentives for industrialisation etc. Should the people of Andhra Pradesh believe what they experience or should they be enthused by empty promises? A State will get liberal Central funding, if accorded Special Status.

The funding will be over and above the formula recommended by the Finance Commission. The State will get tax and fiscal incentives. The Centre’s share in Centrally-sponsored programmes would be much higher. The grants would reflect plan size and budgetary requirements. Assuming that the Centre is technically constrained due to 14th Finance Commission‘s recommendation and replacement of the Planning Commission by Niti Aayog.

If true, it can still help the State of Andhra Pradesh by extending the aforementioned benefits in some form or other. Such a package of measures could have been implemented by now. If so, one would have appreciated the Centre’s predicament. The Congress that got politically asphyxiated due to people’s anger over the way bifurcation was carried out by the UPA regime sees in Special Status a special opportunity to resurrect itself.

But, the party lacks locus standi. The people cannot forget the fact that the Special Status was not part of an Act it authored. The Special Status was a casualty as the party displayed an unprecedented political alacrity to pass the bifurcation bill as elections were round the corner.

Meanwhile, Pawan Kalyan, the actor-turned-politician who promoted BJP-TDP as a credible alternative, now says he could not resist from not talking on the Special Status. The people should know who is stopping him from taking to the streets on the issue that is so close to the heart of the people of Andhra Pradesh. A brazen display of political deceit marks the politics over the Special Status issue.

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