Ramesh hits back at Naidu on special category status to AP

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Hyderabad, May 21: Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has accused Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu of "inventing new excuses" on according special category status to Andhra Pradesh and the Centre of engaging in "double-speak" on the issue.

The Rajya Sabha member and former Union Minister sought to hit back at Naidu, who recently demanded to know from the Congress as to why the provision was not included in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act of 2014.

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"I will ask Venkaiah Naidu why the provision of special category status was not part of Reorganisation Bill of Uttar Pradesh in 2000. UP was reorganised into UP and Uttarakhand in 2000. Special category status was given to Uttarakhand in 2002. Why was it not part of the Bill?" he asked.

"These (according special category status to AP) are executive decisions. So, same principle that applied to (Atal Behari) Vajpayee (the then PM) is being applied to Manmohan Singh also. The Cabinet decided that special category status should be given to AP. Venkaiah Naidu is trying to find excuses," Ramesh told PTI.

He said his "sympathies" are with Naidu because the latter was party to the decision (on giving this status to AP).

"He (Naidu) knew that Manmohan Singh was going to make the commitment on 20th February of 2014. But Venkaiah Naidu also knows that Narendra Modi has gone back on the commitment. He is trying to invent new excuses," the Congress leader alleged. 

Ramesh quoted the NDA government as saying that according to 14th Finance Commission, the distinction between special category status states and non-special category status states has been abolished.

"But Mr (Arun) Jaitley (Union Finance Minister) also says that whatever promises made as part of AP Reorganisation Act will be kept. So, I think there is lot of double-speak in what the government has been saying and doing," he said.

"It's high time that Mr Modi starts fulfilling the promises made to the people of AP. He (Modi) has betrayed the people of AP," he said.

Ramesh said AP is "very much" qualified to get the special category status as revenues from Hyderabad were not being apportioned between the state and Telangana, and there was going to be revenue deficit for AP for at least five years.

The special status is needed to compensate for that. On whether according this status would fuel similar demand from some other states, he said, "You examine on a case-to-case basis. The best cannot be the enemy of good."

PTI

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