The Centre’s obduracy has made Andhra Pradesh boil once again. While, the opposition obviously wishes to fish in the troubled waters, discontent and disenchantment with the politics of betrayal pervade the Andhra Pradesh society and polity. But, the political system has to decipher the issues coming to the fore in the entire debate surrounding the Special Status rather than get caught completely in the cacophony. ?
The very Reorganisation Act itself was predicated upon the promise of Special Status to provide for a reasonable compensation to the arbitrary division of the State. Thus, denial of Special Status is a clear violation of the very basis of reorganisation, though technically it may not constitute a violation of the Act. When the Prime Minister Narendra Modi ascribes such a sanctity to the mud and water collected from the Parliament premises, why not give the same to the assurance given by the then Prime Minister on the floor of the Parliament which enjoys approval of the BJP and all other political parties having representation in Rajya Sabha?
There are no constitutional or legal hurdles in the way of according Special Status to Andhra Pradesh. Thus denial of it constitutes political immorality and even constitutional impropriety and political brinkmanship
The often repeated question is that the Special Status was not part of the Andhra Pradesh State Reorganisation Act. Such a defence is fallacious. The political contrivances should be exposed. The Centre in a rather clandestine manner amended the State Reorganisation Act, that too much to the chagrin of Telangana to transfer the Polavaram submergence mandals to Andhra Pradesh.
The Article 3 of the Constitution clearly states that the Reorganisation Act can only be passed by Parliament after ascertaining the opinion of the affected state legislature, though its concurrence is not required. But, the amendment to the act was not sent to the legislatures of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for their views. The Centre may argue that it is only an amendment but not an act. As none has challenged it on a legal platform, the Centre’s argument goes uncontested.
But, the Special Status to Andhra Pradesh is not even controversial. There is a complete consensus across the political spectra for granting the Special Status to Andhra Pradesh. The Centre can amend the State Reorganisation Act once again to accommodate this consensus in the Act to tide over any exigencies created due to the acceptance of the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission.
Yet another weak alibi expressed by Centre is that many States are longing for Special Status, making it difficult for it to concede. If the Centre is beset with such a dilemma, it can simply accept the Private Member Bill introduced by KVP Ramachandra Rao.
Though Special Status is not part of the Act due to political expediency of all the political parties, the promise itself enjoys special status. It was Prime Minister’s assurance on the floor of the House. Assurance made to the House cannot be equated with empty political rhetoric dished out on political and electoral platforms.
In fact, the very Reorganisation Act itself was predicated upon the promise of Special Status to provide for a reasonable compensation to the arbitrary division of the State. Thus, denial of Special Status is a clear violation of the very basis of reorganisation, though technically it may not constitute a violation of the Act.
When the Prime Minister Narendra Modi ascribes such a sanctity to the mud and water collected from the Parliament premises, why not give the same to the assurance given by the then Prime Minister on the floor of the Parliament which enjoys approval of the BJP and all other political parties having representation in Rajya Sabha?
There are no constitutional or legal hurdles in the way of according Special Status to Andhra Pradesh. Thus denial of it constitutes political immorality and even constitutional impropriety and political brinkmanship.
The often quoted objection to the granting of Special Status to Andhra Pradesh is the so-called recommendation of 14th Finance Commission. It’s a bundle of lies purveyed and perpetuated every day in a cruel defence of an act of political chicanery.
The fact is that the 14th Finance Commission has not recommended denial of Special Status to Andhra Pradesh. The Commission felt that given the new scheme of devolution of Centre–State finances, the concept of Special Status is no longer relevant. But this is only a general recommendation.
The promise of Special Status was the result of special circumstances created by the division of state. The Article 4 of the Constitution empowers Parliament to take supplemental, incidental and consequential measures to meet the exigencies created by the reorganisation of a State.
No such law as aforesaid shall be deemed to be an amendment to the Constitution. Thus is the special situation ascribed to the reorganisation of states. Special Status to Andhra Pradesh is a promise on the eve of the bifurcation of the State as per the Article 3 of the Constitution.
The recommendations of the Finance Commission, therefore, cannot prevail over the reorganisation act. Special Status was promised as a measure consequential to the reorganisation causing unviable state of finances. The promise of Special Status is therefore a measure incidental to the reorganisation of the State.
In fact, several states enjoying Special Status hitherto expressed concern over the abrogation of such a status. Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to North Eastern States to continue 90:10 per cent ratio in the allocation of funds for central schemes which these states enjoyed as part of the Special Category Status.
If the Central government is so sincere to the woes of Andhra Pradesh why isn’t a similar benefit extended to Andhra Pradesh? The BJP which promises more than Special Status can do this at least to demonstrate its honest intentions and truthful predicament. The promise of Special Status is a precursor to the Finance Commission’s report.
If the Central government wants to accord such sanctity to the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission and therefore denying Special Status to Andhra Pradesh, why doesn’t it give similar value to the recommendations of 12th Finance Commission? The 12th Finance Commission recommended 50 per cent share in the profit gas accruing to Centre as royalty under sharing agreements.
The Government of united Andhra Pradesh wrote over dozen letters to the Government of India in this regard. But, both the State government of Andhra Pradesh and the political parties in the State display conspicuous silence on this crucial recommendation which, if implemented, could garner over two lakh crore investments to the state. How can the recommendations of Finance Commission be implemented selectively much to the distress of Andhra Pradesh?
The hypocrisy of the ruling dispensation at the Centre is evident from its repeated assertion that it would implement the State Reorganisation Act. Such a claim is simply fallacious as the government of the day is constitutionally mandated to implement the act and it is therefore not a special gesture for Andhra Pradesh. The benefits envisaged in the act and the benefits that were promised as part of the Special Status are not mutually exclusive.
In fact, several aspects of the reorganisation act are either not implemented or are partially attempted. The State government in which even the BJP is a partner expressed its dissatisfaction time and again over the tardy and unsatisfactory implementation of the act itself.
In a brazen bid to placate the hurt sentiments of people of Andhra Pradesh, the Centre is now talking about the so-called road map of NITI Aayog. Bihar and Jammu Kashmir were promised assistance to the tune of over a lakh crores even without any such road map by NITI Aayog.
The Finance Commission recommendations have not come in the way. In fact, the Centre is not obligated by any reorganisation act to walk several extra miles to help Bihar or Jammu Kashmir.
The opposition instead of gunning for their political adversaries should raise substantial legal, political and polemical points to assert the right of Andhra Pradesh to both Special Package and Special Status.