Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had no one from his team to support him on his demand for the special category status to the State, the key bifurcation promise. Though Chandrababu Naidu had teamed up with the Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Karnataka and Kerala ahead of the NITI Aayog meeting in Delhi, neither of them supported the demand. It was surprisingly, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s team, who spoke for the special category status to Andhra Pradesh and also sought the status for his Bihar.
The Chief Ministers of West Bengal and Karnataka are part of the anti-Modi team, at least for this season, while Kerala Chief Minister had been the anti-Modi team as he belonged to the CPM. Mamata Benerji of West Bengal and Kumaraswamy of Karnataka were once with the BJP, but now not part of the Narendra Modi team. It was only Chandrababu Naidu who was part of Narendra Modi team till April this year, and had lined-up with the other three Chief Ministers. His claim to fight against Narendra Modi on the special category status demand and other bifurcation issues went unnoticed, except for the media from Andhra Pradesh which backs him.
It was speculated that Chandrababu Naidu would make his points clear to the Prime Minister at the NITI Aayog meeting and press hard the demand for special category status. But, his speech was not even as hard as it used to be here in Andhra Pradesh when he was with the Prime Minister. He just had made a reference to the special category status demand along with other issues and had closed his speech.
But, it was Nitish Kumar of Bihar, who repeated the demand and also wanted the special category status to his state along with Andhra Pradesh. Interestingly, it was on Nitish Kumar’s statement that the Prime Minister had reportedly reacted. While briefing the media after the meeting NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar had quoted the Prime Minister saying that the Centre is committed in letter and spirit to help the States.
“Some states did raise the issue of special status. The discussions were more focused on the statutory provisions that were in place at the time of the bifurcation of states and the Prime Minister said that the central government is committed in letter and spirit to adhere to those provisions,” Rajiv Kumar said. If one goes by this statement, it is not clear whether the Prime Minister is aware of the promise made to Andhra Pradesh at the time of bifurcation and whether the promise comes under the ‘statutory provisions’ that he claimed at the meeting.
Whatever the Prime Minister meant about the statutory provisions, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister did not get any assurance on the demand even though he had the chance to meet the Prime Minister