The Opposition and the Telugu Desam, an alliance partner in the NDA, on Thursday demanded that the Centre implement the promise made by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on according special category status to AP further delay. They condemned the delay in implementing the promise made two years ago.
The Rajya Sabha on Thursday took up the scheduled special discussion on the special status issue at 6 pm which lasted three and a half hours. It will be resumed on Friday for a brief period followed by reply by the leader of the House and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley.
Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said that according special status to AP could not be compared with demands from other states. Participating in the debate, Congress' Dr K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao, who had introduced the private member's Bill that necessitated the debate, told the House that he would not withdraw the Bill and asked the Chair when it would be taken up. He denied rumours that he would withdraw the Bill.
Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurian said even if someone wanted to withdraw the Bill, consent of the House was needed; as promised earlier, the Bill would be taken up for consideration on Friday and due procedure would be followed. Mr Rao said it was cruel on the part Mr Jaitley to say that the Bill involved financial commitments and thus could not be taken up by the Upper House.
Union minister Venkaiah Naidu, giving his personal explanation at the end of Thursday's debate, said that the NDA was very much concerned about its promises and they would be fulfilled at an appropriate time after taking different viewpoints expressed by some quarters on the issue. “We are implementing status in a different manner,” he said.
The minister, who came under attack from almost every speaker for his failure to secure special status, added several states had started demanding special status, and Congress members in Lok Sabha were demanding that it be given to their respective states. He said that he did not believe that special status would solve all the problems faced by AP. He said the Centre in the last two years had given special funds, packages and projects to AP and listed them.