A sense of hurt at not having received the Special Status it demanded for four years is making all parties distance themselves from the BJP
As the fourth anniversary of the endorsement of the AP Reorganization Act in Parliament (20 February 2014) closes in, the heartburn of the 5 crore people of new Andhra Pradesh over failed promises is emerging as a consolidator of anti-BJP forces in residual AP.
While the big players, the ruling TDP (Telugu Desam Party) and opposition YSR Congress have drawn up programs to quit Parliament and intensify their campaign as a run-up to the 2019 general elections, smaller outfits like Jana Sena of actor Pawan Kalyan and Lok Satta of ex-IAS officer Jayaprakash Narayan have evolved a JFC (Joint Fact-Finding Committee) to explore why the BJP-led Centre has failed them.
It was the BJP which had floated the “Two-States-Two Votes” concept in 2002. The key player in the 2014 high voltage drama in Parliament of endorsing the AP Reorganization Act – the BJP – is now being viewed as an enemy of the state.
The YSRC Game Plan
YSRC chief and opposition leader in AP Assembly, YS Jaganmohan Reddy, has been on the campaign trail since November 2017 with his Praja Sankalp Yatra. He has been focusing on special status blues. The lone opposition even ignored the winter session of AP Assembly while his MPs staged protests in Parliament ahead of the TDP. Jagan announced on Wednesday that his 6 party MPs (another 2 have crossed over to the TDP) will stage protests in Parliament when it meets on March 05 and resign by April 06 if nothing substantial is done for AP. His MLAs (44 now as against 67 won in 2014) will stage non-stop protests at district collectorates demanding special status.
Jagan is hitting out at the TDP, alleging that they had given up the special status cause – the only solution for development of AP. “Chandrababu has compromised with BJP for his personal political agenda,” Jagan has said repeatedly. Surveys last month indicated that Jagan influenced rural voters, a fact which is shaking up the TDP camp. “After dangling the special package for 4 years, BJP-led NDA is once again taking us for a long ride. Our words of caution to TDP had only earned us retribution,” he said on Friday, urging TDP MPs to join shoulders with YSRC in the battle for special status in Parliament again.
The TDP Manouevre
After much vacillation, the ruling TDP has finally shot missiles at its ally, the NDA, following the Union Budget 2018 debacle.
“Until now we observed mitra dharma (rules of friendship), but now it is Dharma Yuddham (battle for justice),” Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu told the TDP politburo and AP cabinet on Thursday,asking his MPs to continue their battle in Parliament in the next session. “We will step by step heat up our campaign for special status and YSRC and Jagan are only keen for the remission of his CBI cases,” he said at the party forum. “I went to Delhi 29 times to appraise the gravity of injustice to AP in bifurcation. I worked for over a year in a bus as my office and home. They (Centre) insulted us in so many ways,” he added.
Naidu now has geared up for the resignation of his party MPs – 16 plus 2 YSRC turncoats in Lok Sabha and 3 in Rajya Sabha. Sources though say that he will not withdraw support to the NDA or ask for the resignation of his two ministers in the Modi cabinet. In fact, on Friday, he reprimanded a minister Adinarayan Reddy for “loose talk” about leaving the Modi cabinet. The agenda is to keep up the pressure from March 05 and finally take stock on quitting NDA and the Modi cabinet if nothing happens by April 06, he told TDP party workers on Friday.
Following in the footsteps of the Telangana JAC (Joint Action Committee), a new front has been propped up in Seemandhra now. Called the JFC or Joint Fact-Finding Committee, this is a platform to garner the support of 20 plus peoples’ organisations for special status for the state. Besides the Jana Sena and Lok Satta, Left parties, Congress, Prof K Nageswar, an MLC and former editor of online publication Hans India, and president of AP Special Status Sadhana Samiti Chalasani Srinivas along with retired IAS officers met on Friday to formulate a new strategy.
Addressing the first meeting of the JFC today, Kapu leader and actor Pawan Kalyan said – “The JFC will be looking into the promises made by Centre to AP and its implementation since bifurcation.”
A committee comprising of three senior IAS officers – IYR Krishna Rao (former Chief Secretary of AP), Padmanabhaiah (former Foreign Secretary) and Chandrasekhar (former union IT Secretary) has been set up to prepare a detailed account of claims by BJP and ground realities on special status implementation.
“The JFC has asked the AP government to present a paper on what the Centre has done until now, based on which the renewed fight will shape up strategy,” said Jayaprakash Narayan at the inaugural session.
Pawan Kalyan said that during his recent meeting with Prime Minister Modi at Gandhinagar he had informed him that the younger generation in AP felt that BJP was equally guilty of unfair bifurcation of the state caused by UPA government. “People have already punished the Congress and they (youth of AP) are keen that only violent action is the solution to get the dues from Centre,” he said.
The Poll Bell Tolls
Andhra is in poll mode now and that is evident not just from the high decibel statements over the special status issue. Rayalaseema is on the boil with demands for a separate state once again rearing up.
The TDP has decided to go on the warpath but firing from the shoulders of Pawan Kalyan and Jayaprakash Narayan. Naidu has also given two Rajya Sabha seats to the BJP – Nirmala Seetharaman and Suresh Prabhu and two berths in his state cabinet to BJP MLAs. “TDP went out of the way to support BJP which unfortunately failed to respond in the same measure to AP which lacked industrialization, infrastructure and suffered huge revenue loss after bifurcation,” said Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu at Vijayawada last Monday.
“The fact that peoples’ organisations are ready to rally with TDP to fight for due rights of the state in spite of its links with BJP is a testimony to the intense anger and vexation against the Centre and bifurcation,” said Chalasani Srinivas, president of AP Special Status Sadhana Samiti at the JFC meeting on Thursday.