Amarvathi: The Andhra Pradesh Assembly on Tuesday adopted a resolution urging the Centre to confer the special category status (SCS) with all financial benefits and industrial incentives without further delay, noting that there were no impediments at all.
It also asked the Union government to fulfill all provisions and assurances incorporated in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.
The ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) accused the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) for ‘failing’ to secure the special status despite the entre having ‘granted’.
Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy, who moved the resolution, termed the as "essential lifeline" and an imperative to compensate the state for the economic and financial "deprivation" caused by bifurcation.
In the resolution, Reddy said: "The Union cabinet that met on March 2, 2014, had resolved to accord the SCS to AP and instructed the then Planning Commission to take expeditious action to implement the decision."
The assembly expresses its concern that due to lack of persuasion, the issue remained without any action in the Planning Commission until its abolition on January 1, 2015, when the Niti Aayog came into existence, the resolution said.
"The assembly expresses its firm opinion that there are no impediments whatsoever to conferring (the) SCS on Andhra Pradesh," it added.
Reddy pointed out that the state's revenue deficit in the past five years had shot up by thrice the amount estimated by the 14th Finance Commission.
The chief minister pointed out that the commission had estimated that the post-devolution revenue deficit during 2015-20 would be Rs 22,113 crore and the revenue surplus for Telangana would be Rs 1,18,678 crore for the same period.
"But, it's a matter of deep concern that the revenue deficit in the past five years touched Rs 66,362 crore," he added.
The YSRCP president said while Hyderabad emerged as a "super-economic powerhouse" in the last few decades with software exports from the city alone touching Rs 56,500 crore, the present Andhra Pradesh essentially remained an agrarian state with low economic buoyancy.
Reddy rued that the promises made in the Parliament during the state bifurcation in 2014 remained unfulfilled, leading to what he said was great financial and social distress.
According to the chief minister, the debt burden of the state had shot up to Rs 2,58,928 crore in 2018-19 from Rs 97,000 crore in 2013-14. The interest on the debt alone was projected to be Rs 20,000 crore per annum, in addition to the repayment of principal to the tune of another Rs 20,000 crore.
"The assembly is concerned that the employment-generating potential has dropped so drastically that our children are leaving the state scouting for jobs," Reddy said.
"The state requires super-specialty hospitals, five-star hotels, manufacturing industries, high-value service industries like information technology, premier institutions of higher education and research to transform the economic architecture of AP, which is possible only with the SCS," the chief minister said. On the last day of the Assembly session, Andhra CM YS Jaganmohan Reddy introduced a resolution seeking Special Category Status to the bifurcated State, as the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given an assurance in the Rajya Sabha during the UPA 2.0 regime.
CM Jaganmohan Reddy said that the previous Naidu’s government had made a resolution thanking the central government for granting special financial package to the state. However, we are introducing this resolution as we want nothing less than a Special Category Status.
Discussion on the resolution led to a heated debate between the ruling and the opposition parties. Ruling YSRCP MLAs blamed TDP for not getting the Special Category Status materialized. Opposition TDP countered the allegations levelled by the ruling party. At one stage TDP Chief Chandrababu Naidu and CM Jaganmohan Reddy aimed guns at each other.
The resolution is as follows,
“Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated contrary to the opinion of the majority of the people. The then central government went ahead despite knowing that the Andhra region will face several losses. In recent past, the earlier government made a resolution thanking the Centre for special financial package. Now we are placing this resolution as we don’t want a special package but we want Special Category Status only. As a result of the bifurcation, AP got 59% population and debts but only 47% of revenue. We lost the capital that generates employment and income. AP had a debt of Rs.97,000 crores by the time of bifurcation. That increased to Rs.2,58,928 crores in the past five years. The promises made in the Parliament at the time of bifurcation were not fulfilled. That led to critical backward condition financially and socially”
“It is not true that AP was not given special category status as per the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission. Truth is here in the letter of Prof Abhijit Singh, the member of 14th FC. He clearly explained in the letter that the Finance Commission did not recommend for cancellation of the special category status. I place the letter before the house for observation. I remind that the Union government had made a resolution granting special category status to the state on 20th March 2014. The then cabinet had ordered the Planning Commission to implement that resolution immediately. But it was not implemented, only due to the negligent attitude of previous state government”.
“Special Category Status is the life line for Andhra Pradesh. On behalf of 5 crore people of AP, I introduce the resolution seeking special category status to the state without any delay. I read the same copy in the NITI Aayog meeting in presence of PM Narendra Modi. The state was divided with the prior assurance of special status to AP. If the parliament cannot fulfill that assurance, how can the bifurcation be justified? Better employment opportunities for youth, and industrial development is possible only with special category status.”
After the Chief Minister's speech, the AP Legislative Assembly passed the resolution through a voice vote.