Vijayawada, Sep 8: Andhra Pradesh will have to settle for a "special development package" as the Centre is said to have made it clear that granting special category state status is not possible, a source in the CMO said.
The Centre, however, is said to have assured the state government that the special package will be "nothing less" than the special status barring the phrase. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu reluctantly agreed to "accept" the special package if it delivered better benefits than the special status.
At the same time, he sent a wish list to the Centre that included bridging the total revenue deficit caused to the state due to bifurcation, setting up of a new railway zone at Visakhapatnam, completion of the Polavaram multi-purpose project within a stipulated time and industrial incentives with legal safeguards.
On a day filled with high political drama in Vijayawada and New Delhi, hectic parleys were held between the state and the Central government representatives on what should be granted to AP.
Chandrababu turned down an invitation from Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu to fly down to New Delhi to finalise the special package before Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made a formal announcement.
Instead, the Chief Minister constantly discussed, over phone from Vijayawada, the Centre's reported offer with his pointsmen in New Delhi -- Union Minister of State Y Satyanarayana Chowdary and Rajya Sabha member C M Ramesh -- and conveyed his response to Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu and Arun Jaitley.
Initially, at an emergency meeting with some of his Cabinet colleagues and top government officials here, Chandrababu reportedly put his foot down to the special package offer and sent a word to the New Delhi leaders that there would be no compromise on the special status.
But with the Centre not budging on this, the Chief Minister had to eventually accept the special package offer with "required changes".
Satyanarayana Chowdary and Ramesh once again held talks with Jaitley and conveyed Chandrababu's feelings because of which the Finance Minister delayed the announcement.