Vijayawada: In an assertion that could possibly strain its relationship with the ruling Telugu Desam Party, the BJP on Friday virtually confirmed Andhra Pradesh would not be accorded 'special category' state status.
The BJP, however, maintained Andhra would remain a "special" state and continue to get "special assistance" from the Centre. The saffron party is part of the TDP-led state government.
Indications that the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre was in no mood to grant special category status to AP have been coming in over the last few days with some Union Ministers making statements in Parliament on the issue.
Today, a rather categorical remark on the issue was made on behalf of the party for the first time, days ahead of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu's scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
With the special category status turning into a hot political issue in the state, Naidu was expected to press the case once again with the PM at their May 17 meeting.
"I have visited New Delhi 20-30 times in the last two years and every time I take up the issue with the Prime Minister and other Union Ministers," he said recently.
"Special category status bothers everybody. It's an emotional issue. But a state like AP cannot be categorised in terms of numbers. We want to only say Andhra Pradesh is special, not the category in terms of 1, 2, 3, 4.”
"I don't want Andhra to be the 12th category (in addition to the 11 states that already enjoy special category status)," BJP National Secretary and AP in-charge Siddharth Nath Singh said.
"AP is a `special state' for the BJP and the Prime Minister, and the Centre is doing everything to help the state post-bifurcation," he told news persons after the BJP State Core Committee meeting here this afternoon.
The Centre was looking at "alternative ways" to address "something which constitutionally we can't give till constitutional amendments happen", Singh noted, referring to the special category status which entails a slew of incentives.
Naidu, "who is a respected coalition leader", only wanted the Centre to implement the AP Reorganisation Act-2014 in letter and spirit, Singh pointed out, implying that the former never sought special category status to the state.
"That's what we are precisely doing," he said. The BJP leader said AP had been sanctioned projects, including premier national institutes, worth Rs 1.43 lakh crore. Besides, the Centre would extend a "revenue deficit grant" of Rs 22,112 crore in four years.
"Of this, the Centre has released Rs 7,020 crore. This is outside the 14th Finance Commission grants, the special assistance and Reorganisation Act," the BJP leader added....