Senior Leader of Swaraj India Andhra Pradesh B. Ramakrishna Raju’s article: SCS Puzzle

Senior Leader of Swaraj India Andhra Pradesh B. Ramakrishna Raju’s article: SCS Puzzle

SCS Puzzle

It is a puzzle for the people of Andhra Pradesh why Special Category Status (SCS) has not been accorded to the state. Our previous Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh had made a statement in Rajya Sabha promising SCS for 5 years.  Senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu when he was in opposition categorically argued and made a rhetoric demand for SCS to be extended for 10 years.  In 2014, during his election campaign in AP, Narendra Modi assured the state SCS when he comes in power. Since then, Mr Modi has become Prime Minister, Venkaiah Naidu became cabinet minister and then Vice President. Four years have elapsed and still SCS eludes the State.

We often hear in discussions and debates that the reason behind denying the state SCS is Narendra Modi’s personal animosity towards Chandrababu Naidu. If that is to be believed, then we can extend from that logic that Mr. Modi must commit hara-kiri to ensure good prospects for his party in the ensuing elections of 2019. Modi and Amit Shah will be very unwise to continue dismissing Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh, as that will have both of them shunned by the people of the state.

The real reason for denying SCS is the practicalities of its implementation. That is the very reason Manmohan Singh tactically avoided the contentious issue and didn’t include SCS in the State Reorganisation Act. He simply made a statement in the Rajya Sabha promising SCS for 5 years which has no legal sanctity. At the time, this statement subdued the rising emotions of the parliamentarians from Andhra Pradesh and helped tide over a difficult situation.  Narendra Modi’s promise of SCS during electioneering is purely demagogic in nature. As if to net whatever fish is left in the troubled waters of the Andhra ‘Pond’, Rahul Gandhi has come up with a stale slogan of according SCS as the first thing he does after becoming P.M.

So it continues – leader after leader or party after party playing with the sentiments of the people of Andhra Pradesh.

Some of the perceivable hurdles in granting SCS to the state are:

  • SCS was earmarked for states on the basis of specific criteria such as difficult terrain, low population, strategic location, economic backwardness and non viable finances. It is questionable whether Andhra Pradesh qualifies for this status.
  • Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand are far more backward than Andhra Pradesh and have not been considered for SCS.
  • Bihar and Odissa have been demanding SCS for a long time.
  • Since the Planning Commission was taken over by Niti Ayog there has been a drastic cut in the allocation to the Central Sponsored Schemes (CSS). The difference between funds allotted to SCS and other states has also been considerably reduced.
  • 42 per cent devolution of central funds to the states instead of 32 percent
  • Chandrababu Naidu has projected Andhra Pradesh as a prosperous, galloping state even without the SCS. Other states demanding SCS status for themselves may fight for AP to not be accorded the same status. Some other states, even though economically more vibrant, may perceive that the additional boost that AP will get through SCS will sound a death knell for them, as their own relative image and attractiveness as investment destinations will be lowered. They too may oppose SCS status for AP.
  • Huge unnecessary expenditure on events, ill-conceived projects,  prolonged stay in the 7 Star Hyatt Hotel for Chandrababu Naidu and his family during the reconstruction of his family home, hopping country after country  in chartered flights with his coterie on the pretext of attracting investments belie the truth that the state is  revenue deficit.
  • Chandrababu Naidu’s lavish, extravagant life style at the cost of exchequer without an iota of guilt.

The greatest failure of the state government is not getting SCS but not getting the assurances in the Reorganisation Act implemented. Even if Chandrababu Naidu is made Prime Minister he cannot grant SCS to Andhra Pradesh because as Prime Minister he has to deal not just with Andhra Prades but the other states of the country as well.

The government should make public what has been promised by Finance Minister Jaitley as the special package in lieu of SCS and how much of it is fulfilled. Currently only Chandrababu Naidu is privy to the facts.

The Way Forward:

  • The bluffs of Manmohan Singh, Narendra Modi, Venkaiah Naidu and more recently, Rahul Gandhi should be exposed.
  • The State Government and civil society should strive hard to get all the assurances made in the Reorganization Act and Special Package implemented both in letter and spirit at the earliest. They should not go on hankering futilely after the false promises of SCS made by any party.
  • The state government should maintain strict financial prudence. Till now, Chandrababu Naidu has spent money recklessly like an emperor with no accountability to the people.

Image: by Gan13166, from Wikimedia Commons

Senior Leader of Swaraj India, Andhra Pradesh
An entrepreneur turned social and political activist, Raju has worked on ground level actions for decades.

The author’s views are personal.