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TDP’s Dispute With The Centre Over Andhra Pradesh’s Special Status Is Just Drama

Posted by Jayant Mundhra in Politics
March 16, 2018

This is all acting.

Politics at its best. Politicians selling dreams. Politicians deceiving people to garner their sympathy. And sadly, it’s my ever favourite Chandrababu Naidu (CBN) stooping to it. But anyway, let’s explore in detail!

Ah! So, many people have been talking about the Special Status for Andhra Pradesh, but hardly anyone knows what difference it actually makes for a state. So, first of all, let’s clear that air of ambiguity.

For most centrally-sponsored schemes, the central government shares 60% of the burden for the funding while the state government has to match the rest of 40% monetary resources needed. That is a 60:40 alignment.

However, for every state with a Special Category Status tag, the ratio changes to 90:10. And, that is what a Special Status means. It can be a great boon for a state government. No doubt about that. It’s pretty clear why.

But, hang on! Which states can receive that tag? I mean, which states are eligible for it? Is Andhra Pradesh’s TDP government led by CBN right in demanding for that status?

And, the answer is  – absolutely not.

Here are the reasons why.

First, in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act of 2014, it was nowhere mentioned that the successor state of Andhra Pradesh would be awarded a Special Status tag.

Former PM Manmohan Singh had mentioned in the Lok Sabha once that his government supports the call for a Special Status being conferred to the state. Even BJP supported that call then. But, the thing is, it could be done then, and not anymore. That is what BJP too has been saying again and again and again. Why can’t it be done? And, that is where the real story begins.

This is where 14th Finance Commission jumps in and creates the spoiler for all. The financial relations between the Centre and the states are defined by the Finance Commission. And, the 14th Finance Commission submitted its report in December 2014.

That was after the present government had taken over, and it redefined the relationship for the next five-year tenure until 2019-20. This new definition did away with the provision of “Special Category” status for states in entirety with the exceptions of the Northeastern States and the three hilly states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir.

Thus, the Centre can no longer give away that tag at all! That is the reason TDP has been hollering and demanding from the Centre something which both of them know well enough is not possible.

But hang on! Why is TDP creating such a furore over it then?

Well, this is where it gets exciting.

It’s all about the state politics. Andhra Pradesh is headed for polls next year. And, the biggest challenger to the current TDP Government is from the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSR-Congress. And, what is the biggest card that Jagan always plays?

That he will get the state the Special Status which the current CBN-led TDP can’t. And, though he is simply fooling people since hardly anyone in the masses understands how governments and constitutions work, people are beginning to listen to him.

And, that is a matter of worry for Chandrababu Naidu. He has to stay in power, TDP too should make the matter of Special Status a matter of its prestige. That way his party will create an image of a party that was fighting for a Special Status for Andhra Pradesh and would help garner for itself a lot of sympathy against Jagan.

You see now what is going on there? That is politics. Everyone is playing with the people. People, even most of the educated ones, are unaware and highly detached from the details of 14th Finance Commission and other such government affairs.

People just want what they want. They don’t care if 14th Finance Commission changed a definition. They want Andhra Pradesh to get a Special Status tag, and if they don’t get it, the present state govt. is going to be the only one facing their rage in the upcoming elections.

After all, BJP doesn’t have any considerable clout in Andhra Pradesh. It doesn’t have much to lose there. But, for TDP, this is a do or die situation. Andhra Pradesh is the only state where it wields power and authority. And, for its authority to be at risk, is a big deal for them.

So, CBN and TDP at large don’t want to be taking any chances. And, that is the reason it created all this hoopla to make it seem to Andhra folks that it is very serious about coaxing the Centre into awarding it the Special Status tag and it is the Centre which is ignoring it and not heeding to its calls.

It expects to garner the support and sympathy of Andhra people. Will they succeed at this? Only the upcoming elections will answer that question.

Now, all of that said, here is more stuff on the same issue.

What one must know is that Centre has anyway offered Andhra a monetary equivalent of a Special Status. Which means, apart from that tag to boast of, the Andhra Pradesh government can get everything else it demanded.

Further, the 14th Finance Commission increased the share of states in overall tax revenues from the previous 32% to 42%. That is a big 10% hike which people, and especially the state politicians, don’t talk much about.

Didn’t Andhra Pradesh benefit from that hike too?

Apart from that, the 14th Finance Commission also made provisions where, in case a state faced a revenue deficiency, the Centre could give it a Revenue Deficit Grant to help it out. It was well known that post the bifurcation, the successor state of Andhra Pradesh would face a revenue deficiency. Thus, this provision was placed, specifically to help out the Andhra state.

And thus, there is no more a practical reason to fight for a Special Status other than to print it out on giant hoardings and place it all across the state, with all the political parties claiming that it was them who got the state the Special Status!

It’s all about garnering the sympathy of the common lot. It’s all about that. Every party is playing by the same trick. To create an image that irrespective of what anyone in the Centre or the Finance Commission states, it would fight with every sword and arrow to get its state the tag of Special Status.

It’s all just a show. A mirage. A deception. Bliss!

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