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Don’t get our hopes up

Don’t get our hopes up
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You are too fond of your liberty,-' says Mrs Touchett to her niece, Isabel, in Henry James-'s -'Portrait of a Lady.’ -'Yes, I think I am very fond of...

You are too fond of your liberty," says Mrs Touchett to her niece, Isabel, in Henry James's 'Portrait of a Lady.’ "Yes, I think I am very fond of it," Isabel replies. "But I always want to know the things one shouldn't do." she adds. "So as to do them?" asks her aunt. "So as to choose," says Isabel. So as to choose? Eh?

As for the Congress, it lost the office in both States for taking people for granted. But the other two penitents, the TDP and the BJP, continue to play out a more distasteful game on this count. It has been two years now that the allies came to power. Yet, the two have failed in securing the Status to the State.

What is more criminal is the fact that even what has been promised in the Act has not been committed to memory it seems. The BJP leadership claims to have redeemed the promises and the TDP does not raise a stink over the inaction

That is it. Primarily, it is all about choosing between right and wrong. And that is where the agitation lies – in determining what to choose, surrounded as we are amid all the confusion, some real and some imaginary. It is a pity that even seasoned men often are found lacking in skills in dealing with such situations that arise out of confusion. The mirage of the Special Category Status to the residual State of Andhra Pradesh throws several questions as to the choices that the political players are making.

Blinded as it was in anger at an emerging Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, the Congress high command, on the advice of its Telangana leaders, initiated the process of statehood for Telangana. The Congress had neither any love for Telangana nor respect towards its people.

It was plain and simple arithmetic that provoked the party high command, at the assurance of some Telangana leaders that it would not only sweep the new State in the elections, but also trash the YSRCP forever, to speed up the bifurcation.

Who said objectivity is a common talent always? Wishful thinking often dictates what one likes and holds good. If personal interests cloud the judgement, one could opt for the monstrous with disastrous consequences.

While Statehood for Telangana was a justified demand, the way the Congress high command went about the job was horrendous when it came to drafting the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014. But then it was expected of them to be so as there was never ever any seriousness to the exercise. Let us turn out attention to the penitents now.

The explanation for this word 'penitent' is simple and an abundant literature is available from the Christian works. It simply means a continual repentance for one's sins committed. Penance, in the Judeo-Christian sense can be traced to the time just after the Jewish exile in Babylon.

The repentance and conversion preached by John the Baptist was of this type. In the first centuries of the Christian Church, groups of penitents were established by the Church for those Christians who fell into grave sin and sought reconciliation with the Church. These sins included such things as adultery, murder, idolatry and magic, and theft.

Doing penance was a visible sign of conversion. If the sinner refused to do penance, he or she was excommunicated. Public penance consisted of acts of mortification such as wearing a "hair shirt," covering the head with ashes, fasting and prayers. These acts were regulated by the bishops.

After the period of penance was completed, the repentant sinner was readmitted into the assembly. Among the punishments as a step towards atonement was mentioned: 'not hold a public office during the period.’ Again among the restrictions imposed by the Bishop, were interdicts, and some of these were for life.

As for the Congress, it lost the office in both States for taking people for granted. The party realised the folly too late and began dabbling in the Special Category Status for AP in penitence. It had promised a five year Status to AP during the process of bifurcation on the floor of the House.

But the other two penitents, the TDP and the BJP, continue to play out a more distasteful game on this count. It has been two years now that the allies came to power. Yet, the two have failed in securing the Status to the State. What is more criminal is the fact that even what has been promised in the Act has not been committed to memory it seems.

The BJP leadership claims to have redeemed the promises and the TDP does not raise a stink over the inaction. Not just on the issue of Special Status to AP, the Centre thus far has not delivered on the provisions of the Act too. For example,

the Reorganisation Act says "The Central Government may, having regard to the resources available to the successor State of Andhra Pradesh, make appropriate grants" (Sec 42 of the Act on the Revenue Deficit Compensation). The then Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, declared in the Rajya Sabha on February 20 of 2014 that "the resource gap may arise..especially during the period between the appointed day and the acceptance of the 14th Finance Commission recommendations by the Government of India, will be compensated in the Regular Union Budget of 2014-15.”

The Revenue Deficit was Rs 16,200 crore and the amount released was Rs 2,302 crore and Rs13,897 crore is yet to be released. No allocation has been made in the 2016-17 Budget. The section dealing with Special Development Package in the Act says "the central government shall, while considering the package, provide adequate incentives, in particular for Rayalaseema and north coastal regions of the State.”

Dr Singh stated "the Bill already provides for ..a package..The development package will be on the lines of the Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi Special Plan in Oidhsa and the Bundelkhand Special Package in MP and UP.” The AP Government sought Rs 24,350 crore but the amount released so far is only Rs 700 crore. This year's Budget is silent on it. On the Polavaram project Section 90(2) of the Act sys "It is hearby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that the union should take under its control the regulation and development of the Polavaram Irrigation Project.”
The then PM assured "if any further amendments are needed to facilitate smooth and full Rehabilitation and Resettlement for the Polavaram project, they will be given effect to at the earliest. Our Government shall execute the Polavaram project - let there be no doubt about it".

This government has released Rs 650 crore so far and the Budget this year allotted for the same is Rs 100 crore. Amount required for completion is still Rs 30,000 crore. The project itself is under the control and regulation of AP thus far and the BJP now claims that the TDP government is refusing to hand over the project to the Centre.

On Tax incentives, Section 94(1) of the Act says "The Central Government shall take appropriate fiscal measures, including offer of incentives, to the successor States, to promote industrialization and economic growth in both the States." The NDA government has promised 15 per cent additional investment subsidiary and 15 per cent depreciation subsidiary which are inadequate and not in the spirit of the Act. With these meager incentives, no industry will come to AP.

As for infrastructure, the port at Dugarajapatnam, integrated steel plant in YSR district, petro-chemical complex, Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor, international airport and new railway zone are all not yet sanctioned. On March 1, 2014, the UPA Cabinet passed a resolution and directed the Planning Commission to accord Special Category Status to the State of AP.

Both the ruling allies are toying with gewgaws or with the trinkets laid out in an inviting display, while wandering through the bargain basement among the cheaper thoughts, those that may serve for a time. And people are left to their fate! Truth, sir, does not like to be imprisoned in a theory. It is much too fond of its liberty! That is the most unpleasant aspect of truth.

By:w chandrakanth

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