Hyderabad: Under fire from the Opposition over the Andhra Pradesh government's "failure" to get special category status for the state, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday said the Centre should help the state till it achieved a level playing field with neighbouring states that are "far ahead".
"Venkaiah Naidu ji and (Arun) Jaitley ji had fought in the Rajya Sabha (for the interests of AP during the state bifurcation last year). In the present time, Andhra Pradesh should not be treated on par with other states.
"There are problems in this state following bifurcation. We are working hard now. The Centre needs to help us till we come up on par with other states," Naidu said while addressing a meeting of TDP leaders in Vijayawada.
"If we see the neighbouring states, there is Tamil Nadu with Chennai, Karnataka with Bangalore and Telangana with Hyderabad. These three states are far ahead of us with dynamic cities or bigger capital cities. We (AP) cannot compete with them in terms of revenues. The Centre needs to help us, give us hand-holding till we come on par with those states," he added.
If the Union Government helps us, if we do well, the Centre will get a share of the taxes and they can distribute the funds among all states as per a formula, he said adding, "so, the Centre has to give us. We have to try for that."
Special category status was promised to Seemandhra (new Andhra Pradesh) in Parliament during the bifurcation last year as a way of compensation for the loss the state was projected to suffer.
During the last year's polls, the BJP-TDP combine had promised to get special category status for Andhra Pradesh.
However, Union Minister of State for Planning Rao Inderjit Singh while replying to a question in the Lok Sabha yesterday said "there is no proposal as of now to grant special status to any state", which made the opposition YSR Congress, Congress and the Left parties attack the BJP and TDP for the "betrayal".
CPI(M)'s former general secretary Prakash Karat, who is on a visit to AP, today said government cannot go back on the promises made on the floor of Parliament.
"At the time of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had given an assurance on the floor of the House that special category status would be provided to the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh for a period of five years.
"At that time, all the major national parties had also supported this demand, including the BJP," Karat said.
"Therefore, the announcement yesterday by the minister Rao Inderjit Singh that no special category status will be provided to any state in the country is going back on a solemn assurance of the government. Government is continuous. Assurances given in Parliament cannot be backed down now," he added.
Condemning Singh's statement, AP Congress vice president S Sailajanath said the BJP and the TDP "cheated" the people of Andhra Pradesh.
Hitting out at the TDP government for "not doing enough" on the promise of special category status, YSR Congress said it will continue its "unrelenting fight" seeking special status to Andhra Pradesh and will hold a dharna in Delhi on August 10.
"Two special trains will leave on August 7 from Anakapalle and Tirupati covering all the districts to ferry party leaders and cadre to participate in the dharna and the March to Parliament on August 10," YSRC leader Botsa Satyanarayana told reporters here today.
Meanwhile, TDP MP from Anantapur J C Diwakar Reddy expressed disappointment over Singh's statement. "The intentions of the Centre that special status cannot be given are too evident and that it is known to all, including the Chief Minister," Reddy said.
"So, we are, either Chief Minister or us, trying to get additional funds. In fact, the Chief Minister has succeeded to some extent," Reddy, a senior Congress leader, who had joined the TDP ahead of last year's general elections, told reporters.
Another TDP MP R Sambasiva Rao said the special category status, if denied, would hurt the BJP politically.