Will Seemandhra region witness another mass movement, this time for achieving special status for Andhra Pradesh State ? This seemed inevitable as the state is already sitting pretty like a simmering volcano due to the evasive posture of the central government in this regard.
Going by the assertions made by some of the Union Ministers time and again to explain the problems before the central government in taking a firm and final decision to fulfill the promise made by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in parliament, the special status (SS) is turning out to be only a mirage for AP State.
As a matter of fact the last nail in the SS coffin was struck by Union Finance Minister Arun Jeitly on Wednesday when he announced in parliament a special financial package for AP to tide over its financial burden in the wake of bifurcation and also to meet the expenditure involved in building the new state’s capital, secretariat, high court, Raj Bhavan etc. Thus it is amply clear that the central government would accord only a special financial package and not a special status to AP state.
Resentment has also been growing among the people of the state over the stoic silence of Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu in this matter and his failure to present a strong case before the BJP-led NDA Government of which his TDP is also an ally besides two party MPs in the Modi cabinet. To mount pressure on the Centre, there was a demand for the two TDP ministers — Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Y S Chowdhary – to resign as a protest against the delay in according the special status to AP.
Having been driven to the wall in this matter what with the Centre trying to avoid taking a decision on flimsy grounds and the people unleashing a barrage of criticism, Chandrababu Naidu advised his party MPs to rake up the issue in the on-going parliament session. Though the TDP MPs disrupted the proceedings in both the Houses of parliament, the central government remained passive by assuring that it would try to take all possible steps to fulfill the assurances made during the bifurcation of the undivided AP.
The central government’s argument was that no specific clause has been made in the AP Reorganization Act and in the absence of the same it would not be possible to accord the special status to AP as it might lead to a chain reaction with many states demanding the same concession.
The first salvo against the TDP Government for its inaction in this matter was fired by actor Shivaji, who has now launched a struggle all over the state by organizing dharnas and rallies in this regard. As if this was not enough, film star and Jana Sena party founder president Pawan Kalyan lambasted Chandhrababu Naidu for not taking any initiative in brining pressure on the Centre. He also ridiculed the MPs from the state for failing to exert pressure on the government.
Now the students and employees, who had played a pivotal role during the Samaikyandhra agitation last year, though in vain, have entered the scene and chalking out agitation programmes to achieve the demand. All these developments seem to have given enough fodder for the detractors of Chandrababu Naidu to take cudgels against him.
The YSR Congress which failed to wrest power in the state and had to be content by being the main opposition in the state, is trying to exploit the situation to nail the TDP and its leadership in the matter and thus prepare itself for the next elections. The Congress, which has been completely wiped out from the state, is trying to resurrect itself by taking advantage of the issue and has already began lambasting Chandrababu Naidu for failing in this regard.
As if not to lag behind, the CPI has thrown its hat in the ring. Apart from calling on the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and submitting a memorandum for immediate accordance of special status to AP, the party has also given a bandh call on August 11 in AP to press for its demand.
Thus the issue of special status is slowly and steadily turning into a mass movement with the people mounting pressure on TDP to make its two ministers resign from the Modi cabinet and also to sever ties with the BJP till the demand is conceded. (NSS).