Centre has moral obligation to do justice to Andhra: Chandrababu

Amaravati, March 7 TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday reiterated that the Centre has a moral responsibility to fulfil the promises made to his state in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament. Naidu was responding to the discussion on the motion of thanks to the Governor's address in the assembly.  Amid speculation that the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) would break away from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over non-fulfilment of the demand of grant of Special Category Status (SCS), Naidu attacked the Centre but did not announce any major political decision. Grant of special status to a state brings more central assistance for developmental works along with incentives for its industrial promotion. In his more than two-and-half-hour statement, he listed all the assurances pending implementation by the Centre and said the state would have progressed more had there been cooperation from the central government as promised. The Chief Minister asserted that he would not compromise on the interests of the state and that the fight to mount pressure on the Centre would continue. Naidu denied the charge that Utilisation Certificates (UCs) were not provided for the funds released by the Centre for various schemes and projects.  He said UCs were furnished for all the funds, except for some heads under the Polavaram Multipurpose Irrigation Project, which did not require UCs. Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Naidu said: "During the 2014 election campaign, Modi had assured that if voted to power, the BJP would grant special category status to AP for 10 years, as against five years assured by the previous UPA government. Why has he forgotten his promise after becoming Prime Minister?" He also accused the Congress party of killing the mother (undivided Andhra Pradesh) to give birth to a baby (Telangana). Naidu explained to the assembly that he had accepted the Centre's offer of special economic assistance package in lieu of Special Category Status in September 2016, as the Centre had promised to extend all the benefits of special status through the package. "But, we have got virtually nothing under the package in the one-and-half years. On the other hand, the Centre has extended certain benefits to the already existing Special Category States like reimbursement of CGST and IGST, besides 90 per cent grant for externally-aided projects for a period of 10 years," he said. Interestingly, the BJP legislators adopted a soft approach towards Naidu, assuring him that they would take up with the Centre the pending issues.  Vishnu Kumar Raju of the BJP assured Naidu that he would impress upon the Centre to give the state what is due to it.  "My wife also questions me why the Centre is not granting special status to Andhra," he told the assembly.  Responding to Chandrababu Naidu's mention that the Centre had issued orders for extension of tax reimbursement under the special status clause to northeastern states, Raju said the order pertained to old dues and was not prospective in effect.  

(IANS)