NEW DELHI: Telugu Desam Party and YSR Congress MPs competed to raise the special category status issue in the Lok Sabha today, and the Centre trotted out a statement that it has often used in the past. Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said the Centre was “looking into the demand” and would honour the commitments spelled out in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act of 2014.
This wafer-thin “assurance” came just a few days after Jaitley had himself explained in the Rajya Sabha that there were great constraints to giving Andhra Pradesh special treatment. Also, the finance minister again said consideration would be given to the provisions of the AP Reorganisation Act of 2014 -- which does not include the special category status – but made no explicit commitment to the verbal assurance given in Parliament by the then prime minister Manmohan Singh.
While both TDP and YSRC MPs played out a decibel match in the Lok Sabha today, this wafer-thin “assurance” by Jaitley was enough for chief minister Chandrababu Naidu to call an "armistice" of sorts with the Centre after two days of agitation by TDP MPs in Parliament.
Naidu said in Vijayawada later that he spoke to Jaitley on the telephone in the afternoon and decided to give the Centre some more time to come good on its assurances. He, however, refused to admit that he would now suspend his MPs’ agitation in Parliament.
"I am not satisfied with what Jaitley said in Parliament and when he spoke to me on the telephone today. It is difficult for anyone to satisfy me. He has promised that the government would honour its commitments to the state as mentioned in the AP State Reorganisation Act, 2014. In fact, he said he would do much more than what has been promised," Naidu said but did not clarify if this included special category status.
“He has promised to help the state. Let us wait and see," Naidu said.
The chief minister is due to visit Delhi on August and is seeking time from Prime Minister Narendra Modi (to invite him to the Krishna Pushkarams) to press or plead his point.
Naidu also made it clear that his party he would stick with the BJP despite not receiving special treatment. "I will continue to be the BJP's friend. I will continue to fight with the BJP. I will not take any drastic decision," he said.
Later in the evening, Union Minister Sujana Chowdary said that since Jaitley has said he would do more than what has been promised to the state, they would wait for four days before taking a decision on the party's future course of action.