Even as BJP has set a target of winning 15 out of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh, it is coming off as a party that is working against the interest of Andhra Pradesh after TDP walked out of NDA.
Several issues after the TDP-BJP break-up reflect BJP in a very bad light. While the special status issue has been a controversial one, it is clear that the party has backtracked from its promises made in the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014.
Despite a four-year-wait, the promises made in the Act for the Polavaram project and the financial assistance for Amaravati have not been fulfilled due to the Centre’s apathy towards Andhra Pradesh.
If one goes by the political situation, neither the BJP nor the Congress have chances in the state, given the current anti-Modi sentiment. What has made it worse is the tone of attacks of the BJP leaders. By bringing in BJP MP GVL Narasimha Rao and pushing State BJP President Kanna Lakshminarayana to propagate the message that Andhra Pradesh has got enough assistance from Centre, the BJP is doing damage to itself in the state.
While it is one thing to say that Centre doesn’t deem it right to offer financial assistance or grant the benefits promised in the Act to Andhra Pradesh, but stating bluntly that Andhra Pradesh doesn’t require assistance only shows the BJP High Command’s ignorance of the state, after bifurcation. In fact, such statements are being received as insults by the people of Andhra Pradesh.
Centre Vs. State – Facts from the ground
Revenue deficit: For instance, if one considers the revenue deficit, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had certified that Andhra Pradesh’s revenue deficit for fiscal year 2014-15 is Rs 15,691 crore (approximately Rs 16,000 crore). Later, the Centre came up with a trimmed revenue deficit figure of Rs 4,000 crore, with the same CAG’s analysis. While respecting the CAG’s analysis of the revenue deficit pegged at Rs 16,000 crore, the Centre has so far released a mere Rs 3,800 crore, which is a pittance.
Educational institutions: If one considers the case of educational institutions as promised in the Thirteenth Schedule of the Act, nine of the 11 institutions are working from a temporary campus as against a “permanent campus”, as mentioned in the Act. For example, the state government has given Rs 1,708.30 crore for setting up an Indian Institute of Technology in terms of land value and funds for compound construction. However, the government of India has released only Rs 100.93 crore till now, which is barely 3 per cent of the required funds. Going by this pace, the permanent campus requires 30 years to be self-sustaining. The same is the case with other institutions.
Vizag Steel Plant and Railway Zone: The Centre says the expansion of Vizag Steel Plant with an outlay of Rs 38,500 crore will benefit the state. Unfortunately, the detailed project report (DPR) for this expansion, which was to ready by January 2018, is still awaited by the state. While this is the case with Andhra Pradesh, projects like Bengaluru suburban network, which still doesn’t have a DPR, has got Rs 17,000 crore fund allocation in the recent Union budget. The TDP has been demanding a Railway Zone in Visakhapatnam, which is part of the Thirteenth Schedule of the Act, still in limbo.
Playing with ‘aatma gauravam’
As Andhra Pradesh has a history of being one of India’s more progressive states, denying rightful assistance to the state would not only impede its development, but will also stall several crucial projects such as the Polavaram project, which could drought-proof the Rayalaseema region, the AP Fiber Grid project, which provides internet to every household at an affordable price, and the e-Pragathi project, which is the first of its kind in the country.
While the BJP High Command might believe that its strategy in uniting the Opposition against the current TDP government has turned out to be a success for them personally, it is worth mentioning about how Telugu people take ‘aatma gauravam’ seriously. Therefore, BJP needs to be apprehensive about AP voters who are watching the insults hurled at their state and are waiting for the right time to cast their vote!
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