Modi zeroes in on YSRCP to cobble a coalition post May 23 : Promises special status – worth it?

Word is that the BJP, anticipating a lesser than majority outcome for the NDA, is seeking new allies to cobble together a majority.

It has zeroed in on the YSR Congress leader with a promise of a Special Category Status (SCS) for Andhra Pradesh. It was the NDA government’s denial of the SCS to AP that ostensibly led to the falling out with Chandrababu Naidu.

It is also learnt that the BJP is now dangling a similar lolly to Orissa’s Biju Janata Dal government.Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already revealed his hand a bit when he went out of his way to applaud Navin Patnaik for evacuating Orissa’s coastal population from the harms way of Cyclone Fani.

How this will be seen in Bihar is the big question? For if there is any state that deserves and demands a SCS, it is Bihar, India’s poorest and least endowed state.

The Andhra Chief Minister, N Chandrababu Naidu, is up in arms against the Modi government for denying the state the SCS and with it the extraordinary funding that will go with it.

It is another matter that the Constitution does not provide for a SCS status. But by recognizing that some regions, entire states or parts of states, SCS funding was given to such regions by the erstwhile Planning Commission and National Development Council, by considering the historical and cultural factors and geographical factors resulting in backwardness. Where does the residual Andhra Pradesh stand in relation to this?

Andhra Pradesh, even after it got delinked from the milch cow of the unified state, Hyderabad, is still among the more economically well off areas in the country. It has a per capita income of Rs.142054, against the national average of Rs.112764.

The other state that off and on asks for special status is Bihar, which has a per capita income of Rs.34168. Bihar has been asking for SCS for decades. Bihar too, like Andhra Pradesh, lost its milch cow when Jharkhand was made a separate state. While Bihar’s case depends on the distance from the median, Andhra’s is based on promise made in Parliament by the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

Today Bihar stands alone as a vast ocean of poverty and hopelessness. Its sends one of the larger contingents to the Lok Sabha (40 MPs), while the other claimant, the truncated Andhra Pradesh send 25 MPs. Yet Andhra Pradesh has managed to stall the winter session of parliament, while Bihar still hesitantly holds out for a similar central largesse.

Andhra Pradesh has also aroused the entire political spectrum to rally behind its demand for a special status, to compensate it for the “loss” of Hyderabad. As a Hyderabadi I am somewhat uncomfortable to be seen by a bunch of politicians are little different from an oil well or iron ore mine, as just a source of revenue. I have no doubt the present political dispensation in Telangana also thinks of Hyderabad not much differently.

Like all our other metropolitan areas, Hyderabad too is a pocket of relative wealth. It has a per capita income of Rs.2.99 lakhs, and the adjacent largely urban Ranga Reddy district has a per capita income of Rs.2.88 lakhs. The other districts are not very different from most other largely rural areas in south and western India. All the largely rural districts like Warangal, Nizamabad, Adilabad and Mahbubnagar have per capita incomes of around Rs.80,000 give or take a bit, but still more than two and a half times that of Bihar.

| Source – Citizen