Willing to give ‘special package' to Andhra, but ‘no special category status': Jaitley

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With the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) threatening to pull out of the NDA over the special category status issue, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said the Centre is committed to helping Andhra Pradesh, but "special category status" cannot be given.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had earlier said that the promise of special category status was the only reason for BJP-TDP alliance. TDP leaders have been vociferous over the special category status issue since Jaitley presented the Budget on February 1.

"What is the implication of special status? The special status used to be originally granted to states in the North-East because they have their own resources that were inadequate..One of the promises was that Andhra Pradesh should be given special status. Provision for revenue deficit in case of Andhra Pradesh as per Finance Commission already made," Jaitley said in a press briefing today.

"We are willing to satisfy every condition. Only variation is that after Finance Commission report instead of formally calling it a special category state, we are calling it a special package, which gives same monetary benefits that a special category state gives you," he added.

In a stern message to the TDP, Jaitley said that political issues cannot determine the quantum of money that can be given to a state.

"Political issues cannot increase quantum of money because Centre does not have free floating funds. Every state in India has a right to same Central funds in the same manner. I have been sympathetic to AP because I know it suffered due to bifurcation," he said.

In September last year, Naidu had accepted the special package announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Naidu has been attacking the BJP led Central government for not fulfilling the promises made in Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.

The main opposition YSR Congress has been mounting pressure on the ruling TDP government and BJP-led central government with their slogan "Special Status is our right, do not get cheated by Special package".

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