Kommineni Srinivasa Rao
Leader of the opposition in Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly and YSRCP president YS Jagan Mohan Reddy took an appropriate decision at the right time. He has proved to be a leader who is true to his word and consistent in his approach. Telugu Desam party leaders had been criticising him saying that he had been threatenening that his party MPs would resign, but that they had not done so. Now they appear to be completely shaken by YS Jagan’s announcement that his MPs would resign from their Lok Sabha seats if special category status is not granted to AP by the end of the budget session of the Parliament. To repeat what Chandrababu Naidu had said over time about special category status is indeed a waste of time.
Is it possible for the chief minister if AP to change his political stand so frequently? What message does it send? One gets the feeling that such people would do anything for power. For the likes of Chandrababu, the hunger of power is everything. The Chandrababu Naidu government is now kicking up a storm saying that the Centre has not even given a special package leave alone special category status. They seem to have come to this realisation now after four long years! Media outlets close to the Telugu Desam say that as per the package the state gets 3000 crores per year.
Is that all we would get if special category status were accorded to Andhra Pradesh? If special category status is granted, investors would get incentives and subsidies to the tune of 90%. A large number of them would naturally come forward in view of this. This would in turn, speed up the process of AP's development.
But Chandrababu Naidu, driven by his own selfish political objectives, decided to forego SCS. Worse, he even questioned whether SCS was a Sanjeevini or panacea to AP! He kept saying that the state would get huge grants from the Centre. An interesting satirical comment has been doing the rounds on social media—it portrays Modi, Jaitley and Amit Shah talking among themselves. They say since Chandrababu claims that investments have been pouring into AP, he would probably bring some investments to the Centre!
This reflects the actions of the AP government. Its propaganda machinery had been fabricating all kinds of stories on this issue. They claimed that development index had gone up, lakhs of jobs had been generated. Looking at these announcements and presentations, NITI Aayog and CAG wondered whether granting SCS was necessary to a state which was already on a high trajectory of progress.
To make matters worse, Chandrababu's wasteful expenditure, using chartered planes for his travel, as if he was on par with PM Modi, gave everyone the impression that AP needed no assistance of any kind. Chandrababu Naidu has brought things to this pass bragging all the time about his seniority.
At a time when the people of AP are vexed with the Chandrababu dispensation, YS Jagan, in contrast, demonstrated commitment and integrity by asking YSRCP MPs to resign from the Lok Sabha if SCS is not granted to the state. He has shown how a leader should be true to his word. Following his announcement and this clear cut decision, the Centre would also be compelled to revisit the issue with greater seriousness.
It would be relevant to recall PM Modi's speeches at Nellore and Tirupati. He gave the credit of AP having 'secured' SCS as spelt out in the BJP's manifesto to Venkaiah Naidu. Further, Chandrababu demanded SCS for 15 years—these statements bear testimony to the promise of special category status. The assurance is a historical reality.
PM Modi will earn the goodwill of the people of AP if SCS is granted to the state. If SCS is denied to AP, people will naturally assume that Modi has gone back on his word. Venkaiah Naidu may occupy the position of Vice-President today, but he is also accountable.
It is evident that YS Jagan has emerged as the hero in this entire episode. Chandrababu Naidu, on the other hand, is reduced to a villain who cannot so much as explain anything to the people when it comes to SCS. He is content to putting out 'leaks' and in the bargain, has dwarfed his image even further, bringing disrepute upon himself.