Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister-designate YS Jagan Mohan Reddy met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday to raise the unfulfilled demand of the Special Category Status (SCS).
After getting a somewhat lukewarm response from Mr. Modi, Mr. Jagan conceded that his party could only request and not “demand or command” the Status — a lifeline for the ₹2.58-lakh crore debt-ridden State.
“The situation would have been different had they won just 250 seats. They would have required our support to form the government and we would have extended our hand only after they signed the SCS document,” Mr. Jagan said.
He said it was his first meeting with Mr. Modi but definitely not the last and he would be routinely reminding the Union government of the demand.
The YSR Congress Party chief also met BJP president Amit Shah and sought his support on the issue. “Today, we might not get it [SCS]. We have to be at somebody’s mercy but I will remind him [Mr. Modi] again and again and someday things will change,” he said.
He reportedly explained to the PM that the Status was the “lifeline” as Andhra Pradesh required funds. The PM’s support was needed to run the State efficiently, he said. “Today, the State’s debt burden is very high. It was at ₹97,000 crore at the time of bifurcation. In the last five years, it has swelled up to ₹2.58 lakh crore. Our interest repayment alone is at ₹20,000 crore per annum,” he said.
The principal and interest put together amounted to ₹40,000 crore per annum.
Mr. Reddy said he was happy that the Prime Minister gave a patient hearing to him.
“He listened to the whole thing and was positive. That’s a good sign. From here, we are hoping that things would come out positively in a better shape,” he said, adding he will continue to press his demands with Modi on the issue of the special category status.
“Every time I meet him, I will definitely make it a point to remind him of the issue. Will remind him this was the word given on a floor of Parliament,” he said.
The special category status is a major demand of the YSRCP and Mr. Reddy, during his election campaign, had said he would support the party at the national level which promises to grant the status to Andhra Pradesh.
Mr. Reddy also mentioned “he met the BJP president, the second-most powerful person in the country, to seek his support for the state’s key demands.”
Friendly ties with KCR
In his meeting with Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao on Saturday, Mr. Reddy said he sought his support on the special status demand in Parliament, and also talked about having friendly ties between neighbouring states to resolve the issues pending after bifurcation.
He also said he will complete Polavaram irrigation project in the state and probe if there’s any scam in it. He said he will also order investigation to unearth possible scams in building the state new capital Amaravati and into government schemes launched by former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu.
The YSRCP chief said he invited the prime minister and the BJP chief to his swearing-in on May 30 in Vijayawada. The YSRCP chief also interacted with officials at Andhra Bhawan.
On Saturday, he was unanimously elected as the leader of YSRC legislature party.
Mr. Reddy’s party has won 151 of the 175 assembly and 22 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh, the elections for which were held on April 11.