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TDP Missing In RS During Special Status Discussion

TDP MPs were conspicuous by their absence from the Rajya Sabha when the crucial issue of Special Status to Andhra Pradesh was being heatedly debated.
Hyderabad | 11th April 2017
Telugu Desam Party members were conspicuous by their absence from the Rajya Sabha when the crucial issue of Special Status to Andhra Pradesh was being heatedly debated in the House on Tuesday.

The sudden and unexplained disappearance of the TDP members from the Upper House of Parliament not only raised many eyebrows in the political corridors, but also brought into question the claims being made by AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu that he was relentlessly continuing his efforts to secure the Special Status promised during the passage of the A P Reorganization Bill in Parliament.

Congress member K V P Ramchandra Rao raised the issue through a calling attention motion and insisted that Special Status be bestowed upon AP as promised during the passage of the bill.

He refuted the claim of the present BJP-led NDA government at the Centre that the 14th Finance Commission had objected to granting of Special Status to AP. Many other senior Congress members, including Digvijaya Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jairam Ramesh and T Subbirami Reddy, and also senior members of other Opposition parties including C Raja of CPI, Naresh Agarwal of SP, Vijaysai Reddy of YSRCP, K Keshava Rao of TRS and others also supported the demand and need for Special Status to AP, which had lost a lot of revenue sources after the bifurcation.

They also pointed out that the newly formed state needed a lot of financial support for even building its own capital. The argument that the state was being given special assistance by the Centre did not hold water, these leaders pointed out, and wondered what was preventing the Modi government from fulfilling the promise made in the House by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Digvijaya Singh pointed out that when the then Prime Minister wanted that the Special Status should be given AP for a period of five years, now BJP minister Venkaiah Naidu had then insisted that that it should be for ten years and not for five years. What was more, even then Opposition leader in united AP Chandrababu Naidu also supported the contention of Venkaiah Naidu, he pointed out. It was surprising that these same leaders were now conspicuously silent on the issue.

Amidst frequent interruptions and protests from the Congress members, Union Minister Of State for Planning Rao Inderjit Singh categorically stated that since the Centre had announced substantial special financial assistance to AP, the question of according Special Status did not arise.

The minister further took a dig at the Congress members by wondering why the members had not ensured that the promise of Special Status was not made an Act. This triggered off loud protests from the Congress members who staged a walk-out from the House at the minister's reply. Even the YSRCP members staged a walkout protesting the refusal of the minister to accord Special Status to AP.

However, as mentioned, what became a talking point in the Parliament corridors and also in political circles was the unexplained absence of the TDP members when such a crucial issue pertaining to the state was being debated in Rajya Sabha. It might be mentioned here that only the Congress leaders, YSRCP President Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, film star and Jana Sena founder Pawan Kalyan and others have been raising their voice demanding Special Status to AP, and not the TDP. And when the BJP-led government at the Centre announced a special financial assistance, Chandrababu Naidu meekly accepted the same giving a go-by to the demand of the people for Special Status.

Even during the just concluded budget session of the AP Assembly, when the YSR Congress Party members led by the Leader Of Opposition Y S Jaganmohan Reddy created a storm in the House on the issue of Special Status to the state, Naidu and his ministers took umbrage against the YSRCP members creating a ruckus when the Centre had already announced a special financial packages for the state.

What is surprising is that Naidu asserted that the TDP would continue to mount pressure on the Centre to accord Special Status to the state during the budget session, but his own party MPs gave a miss to the crucial debate today.

Political circles feel that since TDP and BJP are allies both at the Centre and in the state, Naidu would not like to antagonize the central leadership. This is mainly because of his plans for the 2019 elections when he wants the Chief Minister's chair again. These seem difficult since the BJP is leaving no stone unturned to build its base and strengthen its cadre in the state also with an eye on the same elections, which makes Naidu's stance surprising.
filed in:  Congress, Rajya Sabha, Andhra Pradesh Special Status, Parliament, TDP, K V P Ramachandra Rao, Digvijay Singh
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