HYDERABAD: A day after Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley hinted that special status may not be granted to Andhra Pradesh, his Cabinet colleagues, M Venkaiah Naidu and Ashok Gajapathi Raju, on Sunday said as much and put the blame for the same squarely on the shoulders of the Congress.
Pointing out that special status is not mentioned in the AP Reorganisation Act, Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu - who had earlier claimed that it was because of his insistence that the then UPA government had promised special status to AP - said, “As the special status is not in the AP Reorganisation Act, we cannot do anything now.”
Referring to the Jaitley’s remark that the 14th Finance Commission did not recommend special status to AP, he, however, said the Centre was trying to resolve the issue. “Had the then Congress-led UPA government inserted this promise in the Reorganisation Act, it would have become mandatory for us now,” he said but hastened to add that the Centre will take care of AP’s interests in one form or the other.
Venkaiah, who was speaking to reporters, was annoyed when faced with repeated questions over the issue. “I am not a minister just for AP but for the entire country!” he fumed. Civil Aviation Minister and TDP leader P Ashok Gajapathi Raju too toed the Venkaiah line.
He said recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission had come in the way of according special status to AP. He, however, tried to keep the hopes of AP alive, saying, “Everything will not be done in one year. This is just the beginning.”
At a time when political circles are abuzz with talk of a blossoming bonhomie between the BJP and the YSRC, Venkaiah made an interesting comment. “What is wrong if YSRC chief Jagan holds talks with BJP?” he questioned and said he believed the TD-BJP tie will continue.