HYDERABAD: A week after Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) walked out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over the demand for 'special category status' for Andhra Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah on Saturday wrote a letter to the Andhra Chief Minister.
In the letter, Shah termed the decision as 'unfortunate and unilateral'. "It is a decision; I am afraid, will be construed as being guided wholly and solely by political considerations instead of developmental concerns," he added.
Here is the full text of the letter:
Dear Sri Chandrababu Naidu Garu,
First and foremost, I would like to wish you and my five crone sisters and brothers of Andhra Pradesh a Happy Ugadi. May the New Year bring happiness and good health in everyone's lives.
I am writing this letter after the Telugu Desam Party's decision to quit the NDA family. This decision is both unfortunate as well as unilateral. It is a decision; I are afraid, will be construed as being guided wholly and solely by political considerations instead of developmental concerns.
BJP has been a firm believer in the concept of Politics of Performance and 'development for all' has been our guiding principle. Andhra Pradesh figures very prominently on our agenda of National Development and it is widely known that the Union Government led by the Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has left no stone unturned in ensuring the growth and prosperity of Andhra Pradesh.
Since the discussion of bifurcating united Andhra Pradesh till the present, it is the BJP that has led the voice of safeguarding the welfare of Telugu people in both the Telugu states. This is in direct contrast to the Congress Party, which not only mismanaged the bifurcation but also showed zero sensitivity towards the Telugu people, which is in line with their historic apathy to the Telugu community.
You may recall that during the previous Lok Sabha and in the Rajya Sabha, when your party did not have adequate representation, it was the BJP that set the agenda and ensured that justice is done to the hardworking Telugu people in both the states.
Since getting the opportunity to serve at the Centre, the BJP-led NDA Government, of which you were an integral constituent, has nurtured the new state of Andhra Pradesh with the spirit that this is the state that suffered at the time of state's bifurcation. There is an element of sensitivity and a firm commitment for the cause of Andhra Pradesh's development in the way the NDA Government at the Centre has worked for Andhra Pradesh.
This becomes evident from the massive resource allocations to the state of Andhra Pradesh over the past four years and the fact that already most of the promises made in the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014 are poised towards fulfilment.
The BJP has always pursued developmental politics with the objective of transforming peoples lives. The manner in which people have blessed us over the past four years throughout the country demonstrates the public support for our positive agenda. Your assertion that the BJP is not sensitive to the aspirations of the people of Andhra Pradesh and has not implemented the provisions of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014 and assurances given by the then Prime Minister in the Rajya Sabha is untrue and baseless.
Cooperative federalism is the guiding credo of this Government. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Moth has worked with a 'Team India' spirit, with all the Chief Ministers and devolved far more funds - 42 percent of central revenues (as against 32 percent earlier) - amounting to an additional Rs. 2 Lakh crore, to the states. All this makes it very obvious that any claim of discrimination against Andhra Pradesh is far from the facts.
Andhra Pradesh has received special assistance and attention as the young state needed nurturing and investments to give its economy a greater impetus. Facts mentioned in the following paragraphs explain how the Central Government has not only fulfilled its statutory obligations under the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014 but has gone far beyond to ensure that the state becomes financially strong.
A perusal of these would reaffirm what you already know and perhaps won't admit- that the Central Government has fulfilled its obligations and that the BJP is a genuine friend and true well-wisher of the people of Andhra Pradesh.
Schedule XIIII of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014 has two components namely, Education and Infrastructure. While the Act mandates the Central Government to set up 11 educational institutions of national importance by the end of 13th plan i.e 2022. nine institutions namely IIT, NIT, IIIT, IIM, IISER, IIPE, Agri University, AIIMS-type Hospital cum teaching institution, NIDM have already been established and are functioning in the state. As regards the remaining two institutions, namely a central university and a tribal university, a provision has already been made in the current year's Union budget. Would the Central Government have established these institutions and made them functional in three years, much before the targeted year of 2022 if it was not sensitive to the needs of Andhra Pradesh?
Of the eight infrastructure projects that the AP Reorganisation Act proposes for implementation, subject to their feasibility. the Central Government has already initiated action on five feasible projects. These include: 1) HPCL's green field crude oil refinery and petrochemical complex at Kakinada
2) 800 km long Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor 3) Upgradation of three airports at Visakhapatnam. Vijayawada and Tirupati to international standards 4) The following Rapid Rail and Road connectivity projects from the new capital of Andhra Pradesh Amaravathi: A) As informed by your Government, a Techno-economic feasibility report of Greenfield expressway connecting new capital city of Amaravathi to Ananatapuram will spur connectivity to Kurnool & Cuddapah is being prepared with an estimated civil cost of about Rs. 24.000 cr. Earlier, the state was to provide land free of all encumbrances. But later, in a meeting, the Chief Secretary of the State said that it can only provide 50% of land cost as per Bharatmala Pariyojana norms. A formal reference from State in this regard is still awaited.
3) 180 km long outer ring road to the new capital town of Amravati with a budget of Rs.19,700 crone C) New railway line between Vijayawada and Guntur via Amravati at a cost of Rs. 2680 crones
D) New railway line on Nadikudi-Srikalahasti (309 km) route at a cost of Rs. 340 crore and
E) Guntakal-Guntur line doubling project with electrification at a project cost of Rs. 3,631 crore. 5) "In principle" approval has been given for Vijayawada metro rail project at a cost of Rs. 6,769 crone and a revised proposal is still awaited from the state for the approval of the Visakhapatnam metro project. Of the remaining infrastructure projects, Duggirajapatnam port and steel plant in YSR district have been found to be unviable initially. The Government of India has given an assurance in Parliament that Duggirajapatnam or any other port will be taken up for earliest implementation. A task force set up to re-examine the steel plant in YSR district has made recommendations for making the project viable and the Centre is working out modalities to make this happen. The issue of establishing a new railway zone is under active consideration of the Ministry of Railways and a decision in this regard will be made in due course looking into all relevant factors.
Special Category Status
On the issue of special status for Andhra Pradesh, it is regrettable that some political parties are whipping up public sentiments rather than encouraging an informed debate which is the cornerstone of a vibrant democracy. I would like you to introspect whether poetical parties should be pitting sentiments and development against each other to further their political agenda.
The 14th Finance Commission's Terms of Reference (ToR) have been amended in right earnest as per AP Reorganisation Act, 2014 as soon as our government came to power on June 2, 2014 vide President's Order published under S.O. Sc. 1424(E) to take into account the resources available to Andhra Pradesh and make recommendations thereof.
Due to the weak financial position of Andhra Pradesh, the 14° Finance Commission has awarded to the state revenue deficit grants to the tune of Rs. 22.113 crore covering the overall revenue deficit for five years. Andhra Pradesh is the only state to receive the award of revenue deficit grants for all the five years period i.e from 2015 to 2020 besides the eight north-eastern and hilly states. Does that not show that the Central Government has been sensitive to the needs of Andhra Pradesh?
The NDA government has more than doubled the extent of central assistance to Andhra Pradesh as compared to the total funds allocated in the previous five years. The total award of funds to Andhra Pradesh under tax devolution and grants under various heads during the 14' Finance Commission (2015 to 2020 which broadly corresponds to the tenure of the present NDA government) is Rs.2,44,271 crore and the break-up of this allocation is as under: Rs.1,70,686 Cr (share in central taxes), Grant-In-Ad Rs. 36,225 Cr, Revenue Deficit Grant Rs. 22,113 Cr, Local bodies grant Rs. 12.290 Cr and State Disaster Response Fund Rs. 2,957 Cr. The total award of funds and grants to Andhra Pradesh in the previous five years (2010 to 2015) was Rs. 1,17,967 crone and the Congress-led UPA government was in power for most of this period. Mn Naidu. does this massive increase in financial award to the tune of Rs.1.26.304 Cr (and a rise of 107% in percentage terms) to Andhra Pradesh not show the sensitivity of the Central Government towards the state's requirements?
Even after such massive increase in allocations, the Central Government has offered a Special Assistance Measure (Financial Package) to Andhra Pradesh in September, 2016 which was equivalent to the key financial benefits the state would have got as a special category state. Your government hailed this central assistance package as a great achievement of the state government. Suddenly, two years later, you have made a U-Turn once again demanding the special status which has become redundant in view of the financial commitments already fulfilled by the Central Government.
Under the Special Assistance Measure (Package). the amount of Externally Aided projects (EAPs) signed so far is Rs.8,991.38 Crone, while projects worth Rs.17,236 Crone are in the pipeline. Your accusation that there is a delay in the release of funds under the special package is an admission of your government's lackadaisical approach. Why is it that the state government has not acted in a speedy manner to get the externally aided projects implemented when the special assistance measure (package) was approved by the Union cabinet? If the public welfare was a priority why did your government take so long to access these funds? Why is it that your government has not responded to Central Government's suggestion of setting up a special purpose vehicle for directly receiving these funds from NABARD as desired by your government? Is it because it poses problems in diverting such funds for 'other' purposes? As you are aware, the NDA Government had agreed to bridge the revenue gap for the year 2014-15 and a sum of Rs. 3979.50 Crore was released to the state. The Central Government has also agreed to release an additional Rs.1600 crore based on the revenue deficit estimates for the year 2015-16 by the 14. Finance Commission. Your government's claim of Rs.16,000 crore deficit in the year 2014-15 is fallacious as this includes the state government's expenditure on farm loan waivers, pensions etc. Even our party governments in different states have implemented similar loan waiver schemes to give relief to the farmers but have met such expenditure from their own sources. The Central Government cannot be expected to meet these expenses as we cannot differentiate between state governments implementing similar welfare measures. Is it not political brinkmanship to make unjustified and exaggerated demands and then allege neglect when they are not accepted?
In keeping with the BJP's stated position at the time of reorganisation of Andhra Pradesh and articulated by the Party leaders during the debate, NDA Govt has tried to fulfill every promise made. A notification was duly issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on September 30, 2016 covering the seven backward districts of Rayalaseema and north coastal districts Are you not being disingenuous in claiming in your letter that the state of Andhra Pradesh has not received industrial and tax incentives.
As regards the special developmental assistance to the seven backward districts, the Central Government has released development grants to the tune of Rs.1.050 crore in the first three years Surprisingly, the state has spent only 12% of this amount and 88% remains unutilised. Furthermore, you have been claiming that the Central Government has asked this amount be taken back as this amount was released without the PMO's permission. This is nothing but a figment of your imagination.
The commitment of Central Government towards development of Andhra Pradesh also gets reflected in increased budgetary allocation of Railways. Budget Outlay in 2014-19 has been about Rs. 14,151 crore as against Rs. 5,100 in 2009-14, an increase of about 219%. It is also worth mentioning that a total of 32 projects costing Rs. 47,989 Cr for 5,016 kms are already under execution.
New Capital City
As regards the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh. the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014 says that the Central Government shall provide special financial support for the creation of essential facilities including the Raj Bhawan, High Court, Government Secretariat, Legislative Assembly. Legislative Council, and such other essential infrastructure. Towards this end, the Central Government has already made available Rs.2,500 crore to the state government. This includes Rs.1,000 crore released by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India for the development of the capital region. The state government has spent only 8% of the Rs. 1,000 crore released by the MoHUA. When the state government has not utilized the funds given so far, how can it expect the Central Government to release any further funds for the purpose?
Polavaram Project As regards the Polavaram project, an Advisory Committee of Ministry of Water Resources approved the cost of the Project at 2010-11 price level as Rs.16,010.45 crore including power and drinking water component of Rs.2,868 crore. Further, on 08.9.2016, the Finance Minister announced that the Central Government would provide 100% of the remaining cost of the irrigation component of the project for the period starting from 1.4.2014. to the extent of the cost of the irrigation component on that date. So far, Central Government has released Rs 5,364.00 crore and is committed to fund the balance amount of the project as per the announcement made by Finance Minister on 08.9.2016.
Centre's Key Initiatives in AP
Going beyond statutory commitments made in the AP Reorganisation Act. 2014 and the special assistance package, Hon'ble Prime Minister and his government have given special focus to Andhra Pradesh since 2014. More than Rs. 3 lakh crore worth of infrastructure and industrial projects have been initiated in the state of Andhra Pradesh. These include an investment of over Rs. 1 lakh crore on highways and roads, investment of over Rs. 1.4 lakh crore by HPCL, GAIL and ONGC in the petroleum sector to make Andhra Pradesh a major petrochemical club. investment of Rs.38,500 crores in Vizag Steel Plant, UDAY (Discoms) scheme with a an overall net benefit of approximately Rs.4.400 crore during the period of turnaround, ultra mega solar power projects and Solar parks at a cost of Rs. 24,000 crores etc
The Central Government has allocated substantial resources for the implementation of pro-poor programmes such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan Ujjwala Yojana, Pradhanmantri Awas Yojana etc. I am pained to learn that the efforts of Central Government on this account have been undermined by the TDP in its attempt to claim credit for these programs.
It may also be pointed out here that there are some serious lapses on the part of your Government which cannot be ignored. I learnt that the Central Government has not received appropriate fund utilization details, particularly with regards to developmental funds under desired heads. It is worth noting that the Utilisation Certificates (UCs) have been received only for 12% of the grant released for backward districts in 2016 -17 and UCs were received only for 8% for the 1000 crore released for the Capital region. Since, it is mandatory for the Central Government to have these details to release further installments: it cannot be blamed for fund lapses. Governments are accountable to the people for every single penny spent on their behalf. Therefore, your statements that the state government has
no obligation to give any such statements of expenditure are evasive and reflect governance deficit.
The above facts clearly establish that the Central Government has sincerely and expeditiously implemented the provisions of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014. Going far beyond these assurances, we have demonstrated our earnest goodwill and commitment to the 5 crone people of Andhra Pradesh by several additional initiatives enlisted in this letter.
The commitment of BJP for the cause of development and justice to Andhra Pradesh in particular is simply unquestionable. But unfortunately, the mandate earned together by both the parties is allowed to be squandered for political reasons. We were looking at TDP as our partner in the progress of the people of the Andhra Pradesh. Unfortunately, partisan politics has overtaken leading to your Party leaving the NDA.
Regardless of these facts, BJP reiterates its commitment to the people of Andhra Pradesh and will steadfastly continue to work for the development of the State.
Bharatiya Janata Party