The political battle over special status to Andhra Pradesh has stalled the parliament for nearly two weeks. It has also lead to the exit of TDP ministers in the central cabinet and the party’s exit from NDA alliance. The centre’s refusal to provide special status to Andhra Pradesh has apparently evoked strong emotions among people in the state.
In order to explain the BJPs stance and put forward details and facts on the centre’s assistance to Andhra, the BJP president Amit Shah has written a letter to the TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu.
The BJP president made stern remarks about TDP’s exit from the NDA alliance. He wrote: This decision is both unfortunate and unilateral. It is a decision; I am afraid, will be construed as being guided wholly and solely by political considerations instead of development concerns.
He added that the states development figures prominently in the BJP’s agenda of national development and the government led by PM Modi had left no stone unturned in ensuring the development of the state. Mr Shah went on to list details of the assistance provided by the centre. He wrote :
Andhra has received special assistance and attention as the young state needed nurturing and investments to give its economy a greater impetus. Facts mentioned in the following paragraphs explain how the central government has not only fulfilled its statutory requirements but also gone far beyond to ensure that the state becomes financially strong.
Important facts listed in the letter are summarised below.
11 educational institutions: As per the AP reorganisation act, the centre was to help in setting up 11 educational institutes by 2022. Shah said that nine institutions (IIT, IIM, IIIT, IISER, NIT, IIPE, Agri university, NIDM, AIIMS type hospital cum teaching institution) had already been set up and they had been functioning in the state. The remaining two institutions and a tribal university had been given to the state in the current budget as per the president.
The AP reorganisation act recommends 8 infrastructure projects subject to feasibility as per Shah. He highlights that 5 projects have already been initiated. These include HPCL greenfield oil refinery, 800km Vizag-Chennai industrial corridor, up-gradation of three airports (Vishakapatnam, Tirupati, and Vijayawada) to international standards, rail and road connectivity to new capital Amaravati and in principle approval for Vijayawada metro rail project. For the metro project, the BJP president said that a proposal was awaited from the state.
Among the remaining three projects, he claimed that Duggirapatnam port and steel plant in YSR district had been found to be unviable initially. He said the centre was exploring options to ensure they are achieved. Regarding the promise of a new railway zone, Shah said the government was actively considering the proposal.
Regarding revenue deficit grants of Amit Shah highlighted that the state had been granted Rs 22,113 crore of funds for the period 2015-2020 by the 14th finance commission. He added that the state was the only state apart from northeast and hilly states to get such grants. Shah said that the central assistance had been doubled in comparison to previous 5 years.
Shah went on to add that the Rs 16,000 crore deficit claimed by Andhra was fallacious as it included the farm loan waivers and pensions. Shah said other BJP states had also given farm loan waivers, but they had done it with their own resources. ‘Is it not political brinkmanship to make unjustified demand and then allege neglect when they are not accepted?’ he asked.
He mentioned that ‘Special Assistance Measure’ (financial package) offered to Andhra Pradesh was equivalent to the benefits the state would have got under the special status category. The BJP president added that the TDP which had hailed the package as an achievement was now making a U-turn. Shah questioned as to why the state had refused to form a special purpose vehicle to receive funds from NABARD (National Bank For Agriculture And Rural Development) as suggested by the finance ministry.
Amit Shah highlighted assistance provided to the construction of the new capital city and the Polavaram irrigation/drinking water project. He said that only 8% of the 1000 crore fund provided for Amravati by MoHUA were utilised so far. He added that the centre had provided a total of 2500 crores for the new capital. In addition to this, he highlighted that the centre had provided Rs 5364 crores of funds for the Polavaram project whose estimated cost was Rs 16,010.45 crores in 2010-11. He added that the finance minister had promised to fund the irrigation component of the project from 1.4.2014 onwards on 8.9.2016.
In his conclusion, Amit Shah wrote: Unfortunately partisan politics has overtaken leading to your party leaving the NDA. Regardless of these facts, BJP reiterates its commitment to the people of Andhra Pradesh and steadfastly continue for the development of the state.
TDP had not responded to the letter at the time of the publication of this article. We had earlier argued as to how the special status demand of Andhra if granted, would lead to a domino effect. Though the BJP president’s letter may not convince the TDP chief, the facts are now before the public.