VIJAYAWADA: It's not just special category status that the BJP leadership is chary of granting to Andhra Pradesh; it's not forthcoming on a separate railway zone at Visakhapatnam either.
In pursuit of this very objective, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu sent railway minister Suresh Prabhu to the Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh, but the proposal has not moved an inch in the months since then.
This became clear when Union minister of state for railways Rajan Gohain, replying to a question in Rajya Sabha last week from an MP member from Odisha, said there is no proposal before the Railway Ministry to separate the Waltair division from the East Coast Railway Zone.
This is an indirect way of saying that there is no proposal to create a railway zone with Visakhapatnam as headquarters. Though Visakhpatnam MP and
BJP state president K Hari Babu has made a number of representations to the Railway Ministry, the proposal has remained a non-starter.
Chandrababu Naidu's detractors say he is not lobbying hard enough with the Centre to create a railway zone with Visakhapatnam as HQ; he wants the zone to have Vijayawada as its headquarters. As Odisha is not ready to part with the Waltair division, his detractors say, he is hoping that a zone would be created if not now at a later stage with Vijayawada as its headquarters, comprising Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal divisions.
Chandrababu Naidu's critics say he is obsessed with Amaravati and he wants everything to be located there and that is the reason why he is not pressing for a zone with Vizag as headquarters. "Since the beginning he has not been showing much interest. He has given enough indications that he is in favour of a zone with Vijayawada as HQ," says Visakha Railway Zone Sadhana Samiti convenor J V Stayanarayana Murthy.
He says creation of a railway zone with Viskahaptnam as headquarters is a political decision, an administrative one. "When we made a representation in the past to the Railway Board chairman, he told us that he cannot do anything unless there is a cabinet decision to this effect," Satyanarayana Murthy said.
According to sources, the main stumbling block is the reluctance of the political leadership of Odisha in parting Waltair division as it contributes nearly 52 per cent of about Rs. 5,000 crore revenue that the East Coast Zone earns. The BJP too is not ready to annoy the Odisha leadership, since it is now handling its former ally Navin Patnaik with kid gloves.