Jaitley vows to hand-hold AP, mum on special status

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 18, 2018 Published on July 29, 2016

Arun Jaitley

TDP blames Congress, BJP for financial situation in State

Responding to an emotionally charged debate on the demand for special status for Andhra Pradesh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday the Centre will hold the hand of the State, as it lost out on development due to the bifurcation.

A two-day discussion on the ‘Status of implementation of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 and government assurances’ was concluded here today, with the Opposition expressing unhappiness over Jaitley’s reply and staging a walkout.

Jaitley said Andhra Pradesh, which was earlier a revenue surplus State, is now a revenue deficit State because of its financial issues.

However, he did not commit any special package for AP, but said the Finance Commission has envisaged provisions for more assistance to revenue deficit States.

Congress walks out

While the Congress walked out, the BJP’s ally, the TDP, criticised the Centre during the debate. It pointed to the non-implementation of a commitment given by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the residual State of Andhra Pradesh will be given special status.

Jaitley assured the members that the Centre is committed to keeping all its promises. He reminded the members that the provision for special status was not added in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, though such a request was made on the floor of the House then. “For some period, Andhra Pradesh needs hand-holding. The Centre will fulfil all the responsibilities it has towards hand-holding Andhra to help it reach a level where it can be on its own,” he said.

TDP leader and Minister of State YS Chowdary, while intervening in the debate, held both the Congress and the BJP responsible for the situation in Andhra Pradesh.

Tough questions

He said he is unable to answer people when they ask why the Centre is not paying heed to the commitment for special status.

“Both the national parties are equally responsible for the half-baked, unscientific and undemocratic Bill which led to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. It was done without taking the people of State into confidence,” he said.

He also said the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission do not address the issues faced by the State.

Chowdary further reminded the House that both Jaitley and his Cabinet colleague Venkaiah Naidu, when they were in the opposition, had demanded that special status for Andhra Pradesh be extended to 10 years, as against the five years promised by the then UPA government.

Without explicitly stating that a special package will be difficult, Jaitley explained the Centre’s position on the issue.

“The Union of India should not be left financially vulnerable,” he said, adding that the Centre has already decided to share 42 per cent of its revenues with the States. “The size of the cake is limited, the size of the pie is limited,” he said.

According to the new Finance Commission recommendations, Andhra Pradesh will get over ₹2.06 lakh crore for 2015-20, against the ₹64,575.30 crore that it would have otherwise got.

Published on July 29, 2016
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