Andhra Pradesh

SCS a necessary evil for all parties

The issue of Special Category Status (SCS) to Andhra Pradesh turns out to be a necessary evil for the Congress, BJP, TDP, and the YSR Congress. Given the political compulsions and pressure from within the State, these parties are neither in a position to defend it wholeheartedly nor ignore it.

Among the conditions that are needed for according SCS, Andhra Pradesh conforms with the ‘economic and infrastructural backwardness and non-viable nature of State finances’ clause. Besides lack of a capital city and infrastructure, the State’s finances also need a major boost post bifurcation.

The SCS sentiment has been very high and popular in the State. Hoodwinking, allegations, and counter-allegations on the issue by all the political parties have only strengthened the sentiment. Meanwhile, the parties have their own strategies to cash in on the gravity of the situation.

Congress efforts

For instance, for the first time after it was battered in the State during the 2014 elections, the Congress could take the SCS route and make a comeback with a significant voice and gain momentum both in the State and at the Centre. All credit goes to its MP K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao, close friend of former Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, who became instantly famous and, in the process, could lift the spirits of the party through the Private Member Bill on SCS in Rajya Sabha.

The Bill sought an amendment to the A.P. Reorganisation Act, 2014, to facilitate SCS to Andhra Pradesh so that it can compete with its neighbours such as Telangana, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.

As a matter of fact, the Congress is accused of being the first culprit to dupe Andhra Pradesh as it missed the mention of SCS in the Act despite having sufficient time to do so. It limited the provision of SCS to mere announcement by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Rajya Sabha.

Not a panacea: BJP

The BJP, on its part, promised SCS to Andhra Pradesh and it even included it as one of its poll promises.

Interestingly, the party has been downplaying the issue ever since it assumed power at the Centre, dismissing SCS as ‘not a panacea’ to A.P. Instead, several other financial benefits are promised to the State.

However, the TDP, the alliance partner of the BJP at the Centre and State, has openly criticised the BJP in Rajya Sabha for its paltry financial support and dilly-dally on the issue. The BJP is of the opinion that SCS to A.P. has lot of opposition from neighbouring States. Besides, the national party is also concerned about such demands from several other States. Yet, there is no emphatic ‘no’ from the BJP on SCS to A.P.

TDP dilemma

The ruling TDP too is in a peculiar situation as it is not in a negotiating position with the BJP. The party in power at the Centre is not dependent on the TDP, and hence it has no political obligation to obey.

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is also not in a mood to snap ties with the BJP and withdraw from the government. The TDP’s two MPs — Y.S. Chowdary and Ashok Gajapathi Raju — represent the party at the Centre as Union Ministers.

According to Mr. Naidu, the Centre had to be reminded of the promised financial support and SCS time and again. Several of such appeals of Mr. Naidu have gone unheeded in the last two years. Lastly, the SCS has come as a shot in the arm for the YCR Congress which is silent on several other popular issues, including those on land pooling and acquisition in the State.

Interestingly, leaders from all the political parties have a common thing to say — SCS is a political drama and all parties are aware of it.

“At present, this particular issue is a necessary one and it is taking a longer time for the parties to kill it,” sums up a leader.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 2:33:53 AM |

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