Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy Friday requested Union Home Minister Amit Shah to "soften PM’s heart" on the issue of granting special category status to the debt-ridden state. He said he will raise the issue in the fifth NITI Aayog Governing Council meeting, to be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday.
"I met Home Minister to try and prevail upon him and also soften PM’s heart on special category status…," Reddy told reporters after an hour-long meeting with Shah.
The YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) chief also urged the Centre to fulfil all commitments made under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.
However, the Centre had hinted to the YSRCP government not to rake up the issue of ‘special status,’ as told by state BJP chief Kanna Lakshminarayana.
"The BJP has made it clear to the YSRCP government and Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy that Special Category Status is a closed chapter. There won t be any discussions on that. The special package offered earlier in lieu of SCS will continue. Anyone who thinks that pressure can be put on the Centre to secure special status is mistaken," Lakshminarayana said.
The apex body meet includes participation from Chief Ministers and Lieutenant Governors of all states and Union Territories, along with several Union Ministers and senior government officials.
In this year’s meet, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is said to raise the issue of water crisis in the state. The state government will ask for the Centre’s help in replenishing its drained aquifers through rain-water harvesting.
Meanwhile, in a letter to PM Modi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee refused to attend the meeting. " Niti Ayog has no financial powers or power to support state plans, it is fruitless for me to attend the meeting," her letter read.
"The experience of the last four-and-half years we had with the Niti Aayog brings me back to my earlier suggestion that we focus on the Inter-State Council constituted under Article 263 of the Constitution, with appropriate modifications, to enable the ISC to discharge its augmented range of functions," Banerjee’s letter added.
(With inputs from PTI)