Contrary to expectations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday only promised to implement the AP Reorganisation Act in “letter and spirit” and chose to remain silent on special status category or any special financial package though he wholeheartedly hailed the bonhomie between two archrivals, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his Telangana counterpart K Chandrasekhar Rao.
Addressing the gathering after laying the foundation stone for Andhra Pradesh’s new capital, Amaravathi, Modi said: “We will implement whatever there is in the AP Reorganisation Act in letter and spirit” and added that the Centre will always support the AP government in its development initiative.
Significantly, the AP Reorganisation Act does not contain the provision of special status. The assurance for granting special category status was given in Parliament by the then Prime Minister at the behest of BJP leaders in the Rajya Sabha including current Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his Cabinet colleague, M Venkaiah Naidu, who was also present today.
There was considerable expectation among the people and TDP leadership that Modi would announce a special financial package for the state to make up for the special category status which the NDA government has steadfastly refused to grant so far.
Andhra government had made lavish arrangements with multiple daises to seat the dignitaries and guests and a cultural programme highlighting the rich cultural legacy of the old Buddhist centre of Amaravathi, including a performance by noted percussionist Sivamani.
Earlier Chandrababu Naidu made a mild plea to the Prime Minister saying the bifurcation has posed quite a bit of a problem for the reorganised state as it does not have any income generating centre like its neighbours such as Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai.
He called for some “hand holding” measures for the nascent state till there is a level playing field. However, it was the Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao who hogged the limelight in the ceremony.
After Modi the loudest cheers were reserved for him. While he was content with speaking just a few lines expressing his support as well as that of the people of Telangana for the new capital, Naidu addressed him as “my friend”, a far cry from the days when the two were generally at each other&’s throats over the cash for vote issue. He also promised to iron out their differences.
Modi also hailed this bonhomie between the two, while blaming the Congress for leaving behind scores of problems by their hasty decision to bifurcate united AP.
He described the two states as two arms but having “only one spirit that is Telugu” and said both states would progress and help in building a strong nation. The Prime Minister had brought along some water and soil from the Yamuna river and Parliament respectively, and handed it over to Naidu to be mixed with the soil of the new capital city which he said signified that “Delhi has come to the new capital” but his gesture failed to cut much ice with the people of AP who were obviously expecting much more.