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Give special status to Andhra Pradesh, don’t hurt state: N Chandrababu Naidu

Naidu, whose TDP is part of the BJP-led NDA, said the Centre should accord Andhra Pradesh special category status and attendant benefits as it is doing in the case of some other states.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Feb 28, 2018, 03.55 PM IST
The erstwhile Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government did not do justice to Andhra Pradesh while bifurcating the state in 2014, but the current central government is not even fulfilling the promises made by the Congress, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu told CR Sukumar in an interview. Naidu, whose Telugu Desam Party is part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, said the Centre should accord Andhra Pradesh special category status and attendant benefits as it is doing in the case of some other states.

Edited excerpts:
You came to power amid a lot of hopes and expectations of people of Andhra Pradesh. How do you assess your progress?
The state bifurcation was not done scientifically. Andhra Pradesh is left without a capital city, educational and healthcare institutions, industries and income resources. It was not just injustice but Andhra people were also insulted. People punished the Congress for that. With all my experience as chief minister of combined Andhra Pradesh for nine years and as Opposition leader for 10 years, I have started the journey of rebuilding the state. There were promises made under the bifurcation Act by the then United Progressive Alliance government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during the poll campaign at Tirupati and other places in 2014, gave hope on many issues including support for a world-class capital city for Andhra. Congress did injustice and we hoped BJP as our alliance partner would do justice. I have visited New Delhi 29 times in the past three and a half years, asking that promises made under bifurcation Act and assurances made in Parliament be fulfilled.

What is the progress in fulfilling these promises?
They didn’t give special category status. The nominal industrial incentives that they gave to Andhra and Telangana are unattractive. The division of institutions and assets under Schedule IX and X has not been completed yet. The deficit finance is not given.

Why is the Centre not acceding to Andhra Pradesh’s requests?
I am unable to understand. They should answer. I supported them in all their major reform initiatives in the spirit of cooperative federalism. I supported initiatives like demonetisation and GST (goods and services tax). I was even the convenor for digital economy and submitted recommendations. I am not seeking any favours. Whatever was promised under the AP State Reorganisation Act are the legitimate rights of people of Andhra. People of Andhra were not happy even with those promises made under the bifurcation Act in 2014 and assurances by the Congress, and punished it. The current government is not implementing even those promises.

What are the options that you are now considering?
I will continue to fight for the legitimate rights of people of Andhra. Secondly, I may have to take political decisions also accordingly. I will have to arouse people of Andhra to work hard further. Otherwise, we will suffer badly. The two leading national parties at the Centre — Congress and BJP — shouldn’t have handled the issues of states like this. They should have been more responsible and sensitive in the interest of the nation. BJP may be thinking that they will not lose anything in Andhra. Elections are held every five years and parties in the government keep changing. You cannot discriminate against districts or states that didn’t vote for you. We should think in terms of national interest.

Why did you make a U-turn on the special category status by accepting a special package?
There was no U-turn. It was a mistake committed by the government of India. They told me that they are not giving special category status to any state. They offered to give us special assistance similar to special category status. Now they are extending the special category status to some states. We are asking them to extend it to us also, and not to discriminate. What they are doing is not correct. Why should people of Andhra be deprived of special category status? Give us also the benefits and the status of special category.

What is your appeal to BJP now?
As a politician who has seen ups and downs of various political parties in this country over the past four decades, I appeal to both the BJP and Congress not to offend the sentiments of people of Andhra and deprive them in the interest of the nation. I am appealing to both of them to correct themselves and their mistakes.

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