YSRCP MP Vijaysai Reddy calls Congress “main villain” of Andhra Pradesh bifurcation

Reddy alleged that people are suffering from the "unscientific" division of AP in 2014 and that it was done by Congress for electoral gains.

BySouth First Desk

Published Feb 06, 2024 | 12:45 PMUpdatedFeb 06, 2024 | 12:45 PM

YSRCP MP Vijaysai Reddy. (X)

The Congress was the “main villain” of the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014 and the state’s people will never forgive the party, YSRCP MP V Vijayasai Reddy alleged on Monday, 5 February, in the Rajya Sabha.

Participating in the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address, he said that the nation progressed only when the Congress was not in power.

“In India’s 77 years of independence, the Congress was in power for more than 50 years. India has grown in the remaining 27 years,” he said.

‘Failed to grant special status’

Reddy said that India would become “Congress-mukt” (free of the Congress) by 2029, and that the “status of the grand old party would change to grand extinct party”.

He alleged that people are suffering from the “unscientific” division of Andhra Pradesh in 2014 and that it was done by the Congress in a hurry for electoral gains.

Through the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, the state was split into Telangana and the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh.

“The Congress was the main villain in the entire episode of the special category status (issue) and also bifurcation (of Andhra Pradesh). They undertook the division of the state and its people merely to serve their own political motives,” he said.

“When they failed to grant special status to the residual state of Andhra Pradesh, where was the necessity for the Congress to blame other political parties?” Reddy asked.

The YSRCP, Reddy said, has always been on the forefront for demanding special category status for Andhra Pradesh.

Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi more than eight times and Home Minister Amit Shah more than 12 times to demand special status for the state, the MP said.

Also Read: YSRCP, BJP, TDP or Congress – YSR or NTR families are Andhra’s only choices

Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill

The people of Andhra Pradesh have already punished the Congress, he said and added that in the 2019 elections, the votes it polled were lesser than the NOTA numbers.

Reddy said that the “violent and unscientific bifurcation” of the state ruined its socio-economic fabric. This can never be forgiven and forgotten, he charged.

When the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill was introduced, many MPs, including those from the Congress had raised concerns on three major issues — sharing of water and electricity, revenue distribution, and the capital, Reddy said.

The concerns were never addressed and the Bill was passed amid din by closing the doors of the Lok Sabha and turning off live telecast, he said.

After the Bill reached the Rajya Sabha, members had demanded special category status for the residual state of Andhra Pradesh for 10 years to boost development, Reddy said.

The then prime minister Manmohan Singh in the Rajya Sabha had “unequivocally promised” special status, he said.

“The Congress could have amended the Bill, sent it back to the Lok Sabha, and got it amended, giving constitutional and legal sanctity to it,” he said, adding that because of their failure, Andhra Pradesh is suffering now.

Alleging that the Congress was insensitive to the needs of the state, Reddy said that the party could have easily enforced special category status by incorporating it into the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill. “When they failed to do so, they cannot blame others,” he added.

After this, the Union Cabinet in March 2014 had passed a resolution and sent this to the then Planning Commission for consideration, the MP said.

“What was the necessity? In the past, when other states were bifurcated and granted special status, the Congress never sent proposals to the Planning Commission. This was the first time,” he said, adding, “It means that the Congress had no real intention to grant special category status” and it was just a tactic to delay.

Also Read: With YS Sharmila in Congress, party eyes potential revival in AP

What is special status?

Special category status was historically granted to regions at a disadvantage compared to the rest of the country.

The benefits a state receives under the provision of being a “special state” range from preferential treatment in receiving financial assistance from the Union government to concessions on excise duty to attract industries, along with a significant allocation of 30 percent of the Union government’s gross budget and similar tax benefits.

When Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated in 2014, it sought special category status on the grounds that it would be at a disadvantage, losing significant revenue due to Hyderabad going to Telangana, the new state formed on 2 June, 2014.

However, a decade has passed and, so far, nothing has materialised.

It is crucial to understand that the special status was merely an verbal promise by the Congress and it got a mention in the BJP’s election campaign. However, nowhere in the 2014 AP Reorganisation Act does it find a mention.

Also Read: Sharmila’s push for ‘Special Status’ and ‘YS’ initials

YS Sharmila to fight for special status

Since assuming office as the AP Congress chief on 21 January, YS Sharmila has been advocating for two key issues: Her right to the initials “YS” and a “special status” for Andhra Pradesh.

It’s been 10 years, and the pitch for special status has become a “dead issue”, as termed by the YSRCP who blames Naidu for accepting the special package.

In the run-up to the 2024 Assembly elections, there have been no instances where the three parties — TDP, Jana Sena, YSRCP — have pitched for special status like they did back in the 2019.

With the elections nearing and YS Sharmila’s entry, the special status issue has returned to the headlines. However, is this really a popular sentiment among the public?

Speaking to South First, Professor Nageshwar, a former MLC and political analyst, opined that there is still public sentiment, but it is like a seed waiting to grow. There are other external factors that influence its development.

“There was a Telangana sentiment before 2002 as well, but it was KCR who galvanised support and turned it into a political issue that ultimately became a public sentiment. Special status is related to the development of the state, whereas the Telangana sentiment is more an emotional drive for separate statehood,” he added.

He further explained, ”Upon entering the fray, YS Sharmila has picked up on this issue as neither the YSRCP nor the TDP are discussing it, thus finding a political narrative to shape her future in the state.”

Also Read: Komatireddy for Special Category status for AP

Regional parties failed to approach too

After the BJP came to power, it seemed reluctant to fulfill the verbal promise made by both Prime Minister Modi during his Tirupati public meeting amid elections and former vice-president Venkaiah Naidu.

The BJP government referred to the 14th Finance Commission report, stating that it erased the distinction between general and special category states, considering the level of backwardness of states in the proposed transfer of funds.

In September 2016, the special package, offered as an alternative to special status, was accepted by then chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP, who urged the Union government to implement its promises “in true spirit” and within a specified timeframe.

The TDP’s ally Jana Sena withdrew from the alliance and continued criticising the decision, advocating only for special status. Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan called the special package “stale laddoos”.

The five-year duration of the special package included an allocation of ₹22,113 crore as the revenue deficit, ₹1,000 crore for the development of the proposed new capital Amaravati, full funding for the irrigation component of the Polavaram project over the Godavari river, and a total investment of ₹1 lakh crore on infrastructure and other related projects.

However, taking a U-turn in 2018, the TDP quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and began advocating for special status once again. This came after pressure in the Assembly elections, with Opposition parties like the YSRCP and Jana Sena accusing Naidu of failing to secure special status.

In the 2019 elections, allies TDP, BJP, and JSP contested individually and conceded defeat to the YSRCP led by YS Jagan Mohan, who promised to bring special status if all 25 MPs were voted in from his party in the general elections. However, no progress was made even after he secured 151 out of 175 Assembly seats, and 22 out of 25 Parliament seats.

In fact, both the YSRCP and TDP supported all the Bills introduced in both Houses of Parliament, including controversial ones like the CAA and the farm laws.

(With PTI inputs)