The Joint Fact Finding Committee formulated by actor-politician Pawan Kalyan and anti-corruption crusader Jayaprakash Narayan of Lok Satta has released a report on how Telugus have allegedly been shortchanged
A nine-page brief was released by Jana Sena chief and actor-politician Pawan Kalyan on March 03 to damn the Centre with a flood of numbers. He reeled out statistics and numbers on Central assistance, EAP projects, original findings of the 14th Finance Commission and other data on what was due to AP in the form of revenue deficit, commitments of the AP Reorganization Act, 2014, and others.
The JFFC (Joint Fact Finding Committee) report has exposed the BJP’s stand on Special Category status vis-a-vis the objections of the 14th Finance Commission and the Niti Aayog. TDP leaders claim that they were told by the BJP that the 14th Finance Commission had recommended and that the Niti Aayog had vetoed the Special Category status for states – a promise made to AP in 2014 during bifurcation. The Niti Aayog is said to have decided to do away with the entire Special Category package.
The JFFC has now found that the BJP-led Centre has extended Special Category status for all 11 north-eastern states to further its own political agenda in the Assembly elections in those states. “Now I find that BJP has bluffed to us and given the Special Category status for 11 states for another five years,” a furious Chandrababu Naidu told partymen at the party coordination committee meeting on Saturday, 02 March, at Vijayawada.
he JFFC report said that all 11 states continue to enjoy Special Category status and benefits as follows:
(a) Funding of Central Sponsored Schemes in 90:10 basis
(b) Funding of EAP scheme on a 90:10 basis
(c) Fiscal incentives like concession in excise duty up to 10 years, 100% income tax exemption for 10 years, 15%-30% capital subsidy on plant and machinery, rebate on insurance premium on capital investment, interest subsidy on working capital loans, and transport/freight subsidy
(d) Infrastructure support like growth centres scheme, integrated infrastructure development centres, integrated textile parks, mega food parks, etc.
AP Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu who is preparing for the State Budget 2018 says that AP lost 95 percent of assets and 90% of training institutions to Telangana, as they were located in Hyderabad. “Not only government revenue, most industrialists and businessmen from AP had set up their businesses in Hyderabad owing to the infrastructure and sops given by the TDP government until 2004, which are bearing fruit and dividends now,” he informed the party forum on Saturday.
Some of the major recommendations of the JFFC are:
- Financial assistance to Discoms (power utilities), old age pensions & PRC (Pay Revision Commission) arrears are legitimate revenue expenditures and should be met by Government of India. (Since both states have given 43% hike in salaries to government staff, they want the Centre to share the burden)
- A mere grant of Rs 16,447 crore towards centrally sponsored schemes is not a substitute for Special Category status
- A balance of Rs 74,542 crore was shown as the amount due from the Centre for all the works and promises made under the AP Reorganization Act, 2014
The JFFC more or less demanded that the NDA grant the entire wishlist of Chandrababu Naidu – highways, Polavaram, EAP projects, Amaravati and educational institutions.
The JFFC led by Jana Sena party’s actor-politician Pawan Kalyan, anti-corruption crusader Jayaprakash Narayan of Lok Satta and 22 other intellectual forums, was formed last month. All of these have rallied around the ruling TDP and Andhra government in the fight against the Centre for ‘justice to AP’. “This is the first time since the bifurcation of AP that the Seemandhra campaigners have regrouped under Pawan Kalyan to fight the BJP-led Centre,” said former Congress MP Undavalli Arun Kumar.
This new forum led by Pawan Kalyan has come into existence only after the TDP and opposition YSR Congress MPs failed to make a mark in Parliament, where the BJP rolled out its own pre-poll agenda. The mass regrouping came into focus only after the stalemate in Parliament wherein the BJP had sandbagged the TDP. “TDP leaders including Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had no convincing argument to prove the allegedly bad intentions of PM Modi and FM Arun Jaitley,” said Krishna Sagar Rao, BJP spokesperson.
Though the TDP was not part of the JCCF, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had extended full support – he had sent a 118-page note highlighting the issues for the JFFC to look into.
JFFC, supported by 22 peoples organisations with Jana Sena chief actor Pawan Kalyan as coordinator , has Lok Satta Party leader Jayaprakash Narayan, former Congress MP Undavalli Arun Kumar, Prof K Nageshwar and activist Krishnaswamy as full-time operators.
Justice Gopal Gowda, Dr IYR Krishna Rao and Dr Padmanabhayya are advisors. The invitees included Konathala Ramakrishna (YSR Congress Party), K Ramakrishna (CPI), P Madhu (CPM), Janga Gowtham (Congress), Gidugu Rudraraju (Congress) and Chalasani Srinivas, activist. The JFFC has produced a 67-page report on the whole gambit behind the Special Category status, the reason for the protests during the Budget session of Parliament last month.
While the TDP provided data to the committee on the side, the BJP unit of Andhra refused to send any material contending that the JFFC has no locus standi. “If you want real facts, please browse through the GoI website where you will get all the statistics,” said AP BJP president K Haribabu. He has also released a 27-page report on what the BJP-led NDA has done for AP, which was contested strongly by the TDP.
What Does Special Category Status Give To States?
The row over the issue of Special Category status to Andhra has caused enormous bitterness between political allies, the ruling TDP (Telugu Desam Party) in the state and the BJP-led NDA at the Centre. TDP supremo and Andhra Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said that his 29 visits to Delhi and meetings with Modi and others have been wasteful. “The time has come to review our support to the BJP and NDA,” Naidu told the party coordination committee meeting again on Saturday, 02 March, at Vijayawada.
As the ruling party MPs protested for a month outside and inside Parliament post Budget 2018, another team of ‘apolitical players’ – the JFFC – jumped into the fray, in a bid to “voice the concerns of the suffering people and the bleeding states” according to them.
TDP spokesperson YSS Saibabu said, “What NDA has given us so far is just two rotten laddus, that is all.”
Congress leader Gidugu Rudraraju said that the BJP was playing mischief by blaming it on UPA for not putting commitments on paper and in the Act itself. “When the last Vajpayee-led NDA created the three small states of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkand, the Special Category status was not mentioned in the Act but granted as part of the commitment. But now, the NDA under Modi is blaming it on the UPA and making mischief,” he said.
BJP leaders say that the JFFC is just another front of the TDP set up to drum up public sympathy for Naidu’s political agenda. “Actor Pawan Kalyan is just a ‘holiday politician’ who ventures into political activities in between his film shootings,” said Sudip Rambotla, an Andhra BJP spokesperson.