Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy has to use his power to get the special status to the state during the good time of presidential elections. The Special Category Status is a long pending issue for both Telugu states.

Ahead of the Presidential elections, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy must use the Special Category Status (SCS) as a bargaining chip while offering his party’s support to the Bharatiya Janata Party, considering that his backing is vital for the ruling  National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

The NDA is banking on support from like-minded parties. The BJP is currently short of the support needed to win the Presidential polls. But the saffron party is confident of winning the prestigious polls. Unlike other parties inclined to support the BJP, the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) seems to be facing an embarrassing situation. For, it is clear that YSRCP will support any BJP-backed candidate in the Presidential elections.

At the same time, YSRCP leadership must look at the urgent needs of the state, particularly SCS, setting up of railway zone at Visakhapatnam, clearance of pending electricity-related bills by Telangana State, and disbursement of pending funds related to the multi-purpose Polavaram project, among others. The AP government must mount pressure on the central government and use the ‘quid pro quo’ method. Many opine that it is a golden opportunity for Jagan to exert pressure on the Union government headed by Narendra Modi.

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In fact, SCS is considered to be the ‘real compensation ‘ for residuary Andhra Pradesh, following bifurcation. Getting SCS was an attractive promise that YSRCP made to people in the 2019 elections. Jagan had announced then that SCS would be in his lap should people bless him with 25 Lok Sabha seats. With BJP securing absolute majority, Jagan could not press for demands like SCS.

The Congress-led UPA government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced on the floor of the Rajya Sabha that SCS would be granted to the residuary AP. The Union Government then set aside the objections raised by the people of Andhra on the grounds that the decision was against the letter and spirit of Justice Sri Krishna Commission’s recommendation for continuation of Andhra Pradesh by providing safeguards for Telangana as the best way forward. But the Union government chose to implement another recommendation, out of the five suggested by Commission, only for getting political benefits from its decision.

The BJP, which was in the forefront in demanding SCS for residuary AP, flip-flopped on its stance on SCS after grabbing power at the Centre by arguing that the same was not included in the Reorganisation of AP Act-2014. Technically speaking, SCS has no approval of the Lok Sabha. Citing technical reasons, including this one, BJP had shown its reluctance to grant SCS to any state in the country. This poured cold water on the hopes of residuary AP and SCS has become a poll issue since then.

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Still, Jagan pinned hopes on SCS, while being a part of coalition politics. All his hopes were dashed with the BJP securing a clear majority of seats (272+ out of 544) in the Lok Sabha.

Three years have passed. It is time for people to assess the performance of the government on its poll promises. The feeling among the public is that the Jagan government could not achieve SCS despite having 22 Lok Sabha seats.

Modi’s magic has ended coalition politics at the Centre and ushered single-party rule reminiscent of the mid ’80s, when Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi ruled the country with 400 plus seats during 1984-89.  

Modi, despite securing more than 300 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, stuck to coalition dharma by accommodating alliance partners in his government.

Neighbouring Telangana State government has objected to SCS for AP on the grounds that numerous industries on its soil may shift their operations to Andhra to avail of benefits that would follow the grant of SCS. TS demanded that it should also be given SCS along with AP. This diluted AP’s case for SCS further.

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Still, there is a ray of hope that SCS could be extracted from the Centre if Jagan uses his negotiation skills properly in the context of the upcoming Presidential elections.

After all, BJP had advocated for Telangana and went for mid-term Lok Sabha elections in February 1998 on the plank of Telangana by assuring people of ‘One vote, two states’, but chose to dump the plank only to appease N. Chandrababu Naidu of TDP for his support at the Centre. The BJP had a seat-sharing agreement with TDP in the 1999 elections and retained power at the centre. Its national president Bangaru Lakshman announced in 2001 at Hyderabad that the issue of Telangana would not be in NDA’s agenda till 2004.

Jagan’s political opponents are accusing him of being scared in view of the numerous criminal cases against him. They say Jagan’s political future may be in jeopardy should the Centre set the ED after him.

A lot depends on whether Jagan plays his cards right. #KhabarLive #hydnews