Government in advanced stages of talks on special status to Andhra Pradesh: Arun Jaitley
As YSR Congress continued their protest seeking special category status for Andhra Pradesh in Lok Sabha today, the Centre said it is at a "fairly advanced stage" of discussions with the state government and would arrive at a solution shortly.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also admitted that at the time of division of the state, the issue of revenue and finances has been "unfair" to Andhra Pradesh, which has to be "compensated".
"We are at a fairly advanced stage in discussions with the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and will shortly arrive at a solution," Jaitley said in a brief intervention.
His remarks came soon after YSR Congress leader Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy noted that the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had promised special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
"The leaders of the then Opposition party (the BJP) Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu had pitched for ten years for special category status to the state," Reddy said, soon after he and his fellow party MPs protested in the Well on the issue.
Reddy recalled that BJP leaders at that time were saying that since they are going to come to power in the next polls, they will give special category status to Andhra Pradesh and it was included in the manifestos of both BJP and TDP.
"But injustice is being done to 5 crore people of Andhra Pradesh," Reddy said, adding that now the BJP is talking of a special package.
"If they are not fulfilling the promises, what is the sanctity of the government? It is our right to protest against the lapses of the government," he said.
TDP MP Rammohan Naidu, while participating in the Zero Hour debate, said every district of Andhra Pradesh was getting a meagre Rs 50 crore per year, but this amount was "peanuts and pumpkins".
Naidu said as per the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, the Centre is to provide special package for Rayalaseema and North Coastal Andhra Pradesh in a way similar to that extended to Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and KBK disticts of Odisha. The eight KBK districts are Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Nuapada, Koraput, Rayagada, Malkangiri, Balangir and Sonepur.
On the sixth consecutive day, members of YSR Congress trooped into the Well raising slogans demanding special category status for Andhra Pradesh following the carving out of Telangana state.
Holding placards, they defied the Speaker who continuously urged them to return to their seats and not display the banners.
As the House was taking up Question Hour, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the YSR Congress members are routinely raising the issue, thus disrupting proceedings.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan agreed and said she too has been urging them to return to their seats as they are blocking the view of other members.
When Kharge said the Prime Minister should come to the House and assure the agitating members as his predecessor Manmohan Singh had assured special category status for Andhra Pradesh, the Speaker rejected the demand saying "every now and then" it was "not necessary" to call the Prime Minister as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has already made a statement on the issue.
Since last Monday, YSR Congress members have been entering the Well daily with placards and raising slogansdemanding special status for their state.
In the first two days, members of TDP, an ally of the ruling NDA, too were participating in the protest by holding placards and raising slogans from the aisles. But thereafter, they stopped their protest.
(With PTI inputs)