06 Mar 2018
Rahul: Will give Andhra special category status after wresting power
Congress President Rahul Gandhi made a special appearance at rival-camp Telugu Desam Party (TDP) protest in New Delhi. With them, he demanded a special category status for Andhra Pradesh.
He promised that this will be UPA's topmost priority if it returns to power in 2019.
Rahul said, "What is due to the people of Andhra should be given to them."
Here's more about it.
First off, why is TDP upset with BJP?
TDP-BJP ties have been fraught ever since Budget'18 when the southern party accused its much-powerful ally of making "insufficient" allocations.
TDP lamented that there was no mention of the promised Vishakhapatnam railway zone, allocations for the construction of the new capital Amaravati and the Polavaram multi-purpose irrigation project, among other things.
This, they claimed, was despite efforts by CM Chandrababu Naidu to secure funds.
What is this special category status?
After its remonstrations fell to deaf ears, TDP went all-out in demanding the special category status (SCS), which means that such states enjoy financial benefits.
Central government allocates 30% of expenditure to these handful states.
For centrally-sponsored schemes, they get 90% funds as grant and 10% as loan. General-category states get 30% grant and 70% loan.
Moreover, unlike general-category states, their unspent funds don't lapse.
This budget session, TDP has pushed its agenda forward
Earlier, the decision to grant SCS was announced in 2014. It was endorsed by all parties including BJP.
SCS was mainly announced in lieu of Andhra foregoing Hyderabad, which has employment generating industries.
After being ignored, TDP has been protesting in Parliament. Yesterday, both houses were adjourned within 10 minutes as MPs shouted, "We demand special status for Andhra Pradesh state."
How has BJP reacted?
Meanwhile, BJP was keen to solve its differences with TDP. It sent party general secretary Ram Madhav to discuss issues (like granting special status and an economic package) with CM Chandrababu Naidu.
After the meeting, Madhav had downplayed the issue. He said it isn't political but developmental, which can be solved through discussion.
However, this doesn't appear so, considering TDP MPs' behavior in Parliament.
Can Rahul walk the talk on this issue?
Separately, Rahul was accompanied by senior Congress leaders Ghulam Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge.
So, can Rahul deliver on his promise in 2019, if he wins? Probably no.
The only reason is that it will be politically counterproductive. Apart from Andhra, Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh have also been demanding SCS. So, offering AP SCS will unleash a domino effect, making it an explosive issue.