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2019 general election: How politics of lies, misinformation and rhetoric rules Andhra
In the upcoming 2019 general election, Andhra Pradesh politics will be dominated by Special Category Status demand for the state.

Chandrababu Naidu broke away from the NDA citing the reason that the Central government had breached the promise given to Andhra Pradesh through Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014.

Jagan Mohan Reddy of the YSRCP focused on the Special Category Status from day one and is still continuing his protests wining the hearts of Andhra people. Opinion polls say that YSRCP might sweep Andhra Pradesh. Congress President Rahul Gandhi couple of days ago had promised at Tirupathi during a rally that his first sign will be on the file that gives Special Status to Andhra Pradesh. On the other hand the NDA says that Special Category status to Andhra Pradesh or any other state isn't possible post acceptance of 14th Finance Commission recommendations although the Centre is ready to provide 'Special Financial Package' equivalent money value of Special Category status.  

But the important thing is that for the sake of political benefit the political parties are spreading lies, misinformation and literally fooling the people of Andhra Pradesh. This article intends to give a true picture to the general public, who once aware can ask right questions to the political parties who promise moon to public.

First there's a difference between 'Special Status' and 'Special Category Status'. Special Status can only be given to a state through a Constitutional provision through legislation passed by two-third majority in both houses. At present there are twelve states enjoying special status and those are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Goa as per article 371, 371 A to 371 J. (Point to be noted that Jammu and Kashmir too is a Special Status state vide article 370 but the incorporation of Jammu and Kashmir is neither tabled in Parliament nor passed with two-third majority by both houses. That's why article 370 is controversial and many believe that it can be stroke off by President of India without going through Parliament.) Here also to be noted that the undivided Andhra Pradesh was already a Special Status state and both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana too continue to be special states post division. Special Status gives some safe guard to a particular state in non-financial aspects such as culture, special provisions or some special acts.

'Special Category State' is very different from 'Special Status. Special category state is identified and designated by 'National Development Council' based on various criteria as per formula set by fifth finance commission headed by D.R.Gadgil in 1969. 'Special Category State' is purely a financial arrangement between centre and state where the state is benefitted economically getting more share from central fund along with lot of waivers. Initially three states Assam, Nagaland and J and K were designated as special category status states and afterward it was extended to eight more states namely Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Uttarakhand, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim. States like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal are demanding special status for long but because of the criteria, NDC didn't designate them. The main criteria for designating 'Special Category State' are as follows,

1.       Hilly and difficult terrain

2.       Low population density

3.       Presence of a sizeable tribal population

4.       Strategic location along international borders

5.       Economic and infrastructural backwardness

6.       Non-viable nature of state finances 

Thus those states demanding Special Category Status fail in one or more criteria as listed above. Even present Andhra Pradesh too fails in multiple criteria. The fourteenth Financial Commission recommendation has changed the central grant to states radically to reduce disparity of central aid to various states. As the central grant to states has been changed and accepted by government, thus the question of Special Category State is ended there because the SCS mostly dealt with preferential central grant (or aid) to a state. That's why NDA government repeatedly said that they are ready to provide special financial package equal to the grant they would have gotten had the state designated as 'Special Category State'. Even Chandra Babu Naidu too expressed happiness in September 2016 on special financial package to Andhra although he now clarifies that he expected special financial package along with special category status. The point he intentionally hidden is that 'Special Category Status' itself is a special economic package to a state! 

The problem started when YSRPC politicised the SCS demand. Chandra Babu Naidu could have explained the people of Andhra Pradesh that 'Special Category Status' means a special financial package to the state and he is getting it. But he thought special category status is an emotional issue for Telugu people post their heart broke in the bifurcation of the state, thus he too jumped in to the misinformation politics.

Now let's expose Congress's hypocrisy. Do the 'Andhra Pradesh re-organisation Act, 2014' promised 'Special Category Status' for Andhra Pradesh? Interestingly the answer is a big no. The entire act has no mention of "Special category status" at all. Instead a mention states that 'Centre will extend finances to fill any kind of resource gap'.   

However during Rajya Sabha debate then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh orally promised that 'Special Category Status' will be extended to successor of Andhra Pradesh for five years. Now the SCS isn't mentioned in the act. Government can't give 'SCS' arbitrarily to any state because other states like Bihar, Odisha, UP etc immediately demand the same and if necessary knock the door of Courts which will struck immediately the SCS status citing non-fulfilment of criteria!.

It's not that all the stakes holder of Andhra Polity don't know this. In fact when Arun Jaitly offered equivalent money value (central assistance on 90:10 as Special Category State' gets), still Chandra Babu Naidu revolted citing that SCS is an emotional issue for Andhra Pradesh. Point is if an impossible thing becomes (or made) an emotional issue, you can do politics only but you will never get unconstitutional and illegal favour.

Thus, people of Andhra Should ask TDP as to why Chandra Babu Naidu rejected the 90:10 central funding instead of impossible SCS designation? They should ask Congress, why the SCS wasn't in the AP reorganisation Act 2014? Further they can ask political parties whether Parliament can give any state SCS category violating the criteria.

Politics is alright on any issue, but then an informed public is good to tackle political antics in spreading emotional and sentimental lies, misinformation and rhetoric. If anybody has a counter to my claim, I welcome their views.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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