Special category status for Andhra Pradesh is one key issue in the elections to the State Assembly and the Lok Sabha. All political parties, except the BJP, swear by it.
The BJP says it will only accord a special package in lieu of the promised special category status. The BJP finds itself completely isolated and marginalised on the issue and consequently finds itself nowhere in contention in this election.
The Congress has promised special category status to the State, once it gets elected at the Centre and assumes charge. The party leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, have repeatedly said that it is high on the agenda and the issue has been included in the manifesto as well. Still, the party is unable to make any headway in the State and it is doubtful whether it will be able to win any Lok Sabha seat in the State.
The Telugu Desam Party, which first accepted the special package offered by the NDA government and then changed its stance, is now insisting on the special category status. The party has a tactical alliance with the Congress at the national level, though not at the State level, and has openly declared that it will oppose the BJP or any BJP-led front. Therefore, if the Congress or Congress-led front assumes charge at the Centre, the TDP will support it and hopefully get the promised SCS for the State.
As for the Left parties, Janasena, or BSP, which are in alliance, their position on the issue is similar to that of the TDP and they will back whichever party is willing to give SCS and that is only the Congress or Congress-led front at the Centre.
Jagan in a fix
It is Jaganmohan Reddy, the leader of the main Opposition party, YSR Congress, in the State who seems to in a real quandary. He is unable to support the Congress, though the party has openly come out in favour of SCS, because of his political compulsions. He is unable to do so, as it was during the UPA regime at the Centre and the Congress rule in the State, after the death of his father, the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, that as many 11 cases of economic offences were slapped against him by the CBI.
In the backdrop, Jagan and the Congress cannot go together and ironically the TDP and the Congress, always arch rivals in the State ever since the TDP was set up by the late NTR in the early eighties, find themselves on the same side of the fence. It is alleged, by the TDP and other parties such as Janasena, that the BJP and YSR Congress are covertly in league.
Jagan has repeatedly declared in interviews to Telugu and English channels that he will only support the party which grants SCS to the State after the polls. Jagan, who won considerable political ground making SCS a big issue in Parliament, forced resignations of Party MPs and put Naidu on the defensive, finds himself in a fix.
To answer this rather difficult question in campaign rallies, Jaganmohan has started saying that he would secure SCS for the State with the support of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao. “We have 25 LS seats in Andhra and 17 seats in Telangana, and together we can put pressure on the Centre to grant SCS to AP,” he said.
However, the TRS has never expressed unequivocal support to the cause of AP’s struggle for SCS. When Sonia Gandhi announced at an election rally in Telangana a few months ago that the party would grant SCS to AP after coming to power, there were vehement protests from TRS leaders, including KCR.
Taking advantage of this, Naidu is cornering Jagan on the issue. “Let Jagan persuade KCR to express unequivocal and unqualified support to the cause, as they have become such great friends,” he scoffed.