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Special category status: Raju awaits PM's time, counters Jaitley on Finance Commission

3/8/2018

New Delhi, Telegu Desam Party leader and Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju on Thursday said that he would "quit" the National Democratic Alliance dispensation the moment he gets time from Prime Minister Narendra Modi but maintained the stance taken by the Centre that "Special Category' status could not be granted to Andhra Pradesh due to 14th Finance Commission report was not acceptable. "I have not sent any papers....I have asked for time," Mr Raju told UNI here commenting on the fast-paced political developments after TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu announced that the two Union Ministers belonging to TDP would quit the Modi government amid simmering differences on the deal meted to the state post-bifurcation. Answering questions, Mr Raju said, "The recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission is in public space so to talk about it now is one thing.....But it is imperative to note that granting of the status was a commitment made to the people of Andhra Pradesh and should be honoured. "It is not an issue to be convinced," he remarked when asked whether Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's statement on Wednesday that constitutional provisions under the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission came in the way of not allowing Centre to make such categorisation in favour of Andhra Pradesh. To a question, he hinted that "if there is a will" - even constitutional amendments could be made."Lot of things can be done," he remarked. Addressing media persons on the TDP demands, Mr Jaitley had said that the Centre was willing to provide all help to the state but the only problem lay with the 14th Finance Commission report. "Instead of formally calling it a special category state we are calling it a special package, which gives same monetary benefits that a special category state gives you," Mr Jaitley said. "Political issue cannot increase the funds....Sentiment does not increase the quantum of funds. We have to look at the country as a whole," Mr Jaitley maintained. Replying to questions,Mr Raju, the outgoing Civil Aviation Minister, said, it will be wrong to say that "nothing happened" during the past three-and-half years of NDA rule vis-a-vis the development of Andhra Pradesh especially in the backdrop that after bifurcation it was left financially starved and also without any administrative capital. "Normal development works went on....Only issue has been to put that on fast track," he said.Mr Raju also said the people of Andhra Pradesh were very much part of India as the rest of the country or even the newly-created state of Telangana and would not like to be left as "residue".

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