Leader of the Opposition in Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, has been waging a lone battle for special category status to Andhra Pradesh right from 2014. Can anyone point a finger at him saying the YSRCP chief has not been consistent in his demand for special status to the state? It is this single-minded pursuit of this objective and commitment to the cause which lends credibility to YS Jagan as a political leader and to the YSRCP as a party with a clear vision and ideology. From the day that the undivided state was bifurcated, the YSRCP president has maintained that special status would bring more investments to the state and generate employment opportunities. He also pointed out on several occasions that it would create educational opportunities and will accelerate the growth of the fledgling state of AP. On numerous occasions, he has enumerated the advantages and benefits accruing to the state from the special category status. In fact, he has repeatedly said that as promised in the Reorganisation Act at the time of bifurcation of the state, there could be no compromise on the issue of special category status to the state. It is in this context that the decision of the YSRCP to stage protests in all the districts of the state on March 1, 2018, needs to be viewed. What are the other parties doing? Where is their commitment to the development of Andhra Pradesh?
The Congress as a political party has been virtually missing in action. The role of its leadership at the time of the bifurcation of the state led to the Congress losing its popularity in the state completely. From the dominant position of AP's ruling party, the transition to a non-entity, was swift and complete overnight. As for the BJP, it has been sitting pretty. While trying to gain a foothold in the state where it does not have a presence, it has been keeping Chandrababu satisfied with a few token assurances.
As YS Jagan has repeatedly stated, if we see the gulf between what was promised and what was given to the state, then Andhra Pradesh has undeniably been given a raw deal. There is no question about this. However, what is most peculiar is the attitude of AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu! His criticism of the Centre has always been very muted, right through these four years, if it has been heard at all.
Chandrababu is hardly a shining example of consistency His political career is dotted with instances of betrayal and opportunism—be it in the case of NTR in AP, or that of Atal Behari Vajpayee at the Centre. Naidu is known for changing his stance and switching loyalties. In 2002, he wanted Modi to be sacked after the Gujarat riots.
Cut to 2014, and Chandrababu was faced with the choice of going it alone or seeking a tie-up with the same Modi whose sacking he had sought more than a decade ago. Chandrababu may pretend to forget—but Modi seems to remember. The AP CM's numerous trips to Delhi for close to a year-and-a half did not get him an audience with PM Modi. He smarted under the humiliation, but his sense of Telugu pride seems to have deserted him. The TDP MP Jay Galla, reminded the Lok Sabha the other day, of Chandrababu's failed missions to the national capital.
Suddenly, Naidu has been jolted out of his slumber and started speaking about special category status, although more for effect, as it appeared to any discernible observer. What was he doing when earlier union budgets were being presented by the NDA government? Did he not welcome Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s announcement of a financial package for AP, back in September 2016? Chandrababu said that the people of the state had been waiting for it, for many days.
TDP ministers continue in the Union Cabinet to this day, and if the AP CM wanted to express his strong disapproval of the raw deal given by the Centre to the Telugu state, he could have asked them to quit. He could have asked his MPs to resign.
Why is Chandrababu making these muted statements of injustice to AP, now? Is it only because Leader of the Opposition in Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has been gaining tremendous ground with his consistent record of championing the cause of Andhra Pradesh by demanding special category status? Does anyone have any doubt on whether Chandrababu Naidu has got rattled by the overwhelming response that the YSRCP president has been receiving on his mass outreach programme—Praja Sankalpa Yatra?
This brings us back to the point that YS Jagan is the sole crusader who has been battling for the cause of Andhra Pradesh and seeking special category status to the state. While the others are indulging in click-bait politics, to use a popular expression from digital marketing, the YSRCP chief and his party have been consistent in reiterating the point right from 2014, that special category status is indeed a Sanjeevini or panacea for Andhra Pradesh after bifurcation.