At present there are 11 States that enjoy Special Status and Special Category Status

Till a few days ago, words such as ‘Samaikyandhra’ and ‘integrationist’ were the buzzwords in Andhra Pradesh politics. But, now ‘Special Category Status’ appears to be the catch phrase.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former BJP president Venkaiah Naidu, and TRS leader K. Chandrsekhar Rao and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh seem to be using the term with reference to Seemandhra or Telangana.

Is this the new carrot that is being dangled by the Congress for the people of both the regions? Former Rajya Sabha Member Yelamanchili Sivaji feels so. He believes that the cause for an united Andhra Pradesh has been defeated and now the Congress is trying to win back confidence and woo the voters in coming elections by propagating the ‘Special Category Status’ and even BJP is also singing the same tune.

What is special category status?

Huge difference

First let’s clear the air between the terms ‘Special Status’ and ‘Special Category Status’. There is a huge difference between them, said Seemandhra Advocates JAC convenor M. Jayakar.

Special status is guaranteed by the Constitution of India through an Act passed by the two-third majority in both houses of the Parliament, as in the case of Jammu and Kashmir, whereas Special Category Status is granted by the National Development Council, an administrative body of the government. While Special Status empowers legislative and political rights, Special Category Status deals only with economic, administrative and financial aspects.

At present there are 11 States that enjoy Special Status and Special Category Status: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand.

Difficult proposition

The NDC bestows Special Category Status based on certain parameters such as low resource base, hilly and difficult terrain, low population density or sizeable share of tribal population and strategic (hostile) location, in which case neither Seemandhra nor Telangana qualifies. Bihar’s repeated plea for Special Category Status was rejected on the ground of backwardness, said Mr. Jayakar. The business community seems to be accepting the status as it would empower the State to get central aid up to 90 per cent.