Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy led YSR Congress has said all its five MPs would resign from the Lok Sabha on 6 April, the last day of the Budget session, if the BJP led NDA government fails to grant a special category status to Andhra Pradesh by that time.
Jagan’s party had won eight Lok Sabha seats from Andhra in 2014, but subsequently three of them joined the state’s ruling party, Telugu Desam Party. The entire process of verifying and accepting the resignations might take a couple of months, experts said.
However, legal experts and former bureaucrats who have worked with the Election Commission in the past told The Sunday Guardian that there may not be any bypolls in the event of the YSR Congress’ MPs resigning. A senior legal counsel and two former EC members felt that the poll panel might use its discretion and decide against filling the vacant seats only a year ahead of the general elections scheduled in April 2019.
But Jagan said the purpose of the possible resignation was to force bypolls in the state, so that the mood of the people may be gauged. He called upon TDP president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu to ask his MPs to resign as well. That would mean as many as 25 Lok Sabha seats would become vacant and bypolls would become inevitable. CM Naidu, however, rubbished Jagan’s call as a farce and drama.
Both TDP and the Opposition YSR Congress have taken to streets recently and alleged that the Centre had ignored the interests of the state. Naidu had submitted a wish-list seeking sufficient funds. His 19 demands included fulfilling the promises made to the state at the time of its bifurcation. TDP MPs protested in and outside the Parliament, before staying their stir till 5 March 5, when the Budget session resumes.
YSR Congress MPs too had protested in and outside the Parliament. Whereas the TDP sought funds for various projects and schemes, the YSR Congress insisted on all the promises made to the state at the time if bifurcation be fulfilled and the state be granted a special category status.
The BJP led Centre has repeatedly ruled out a special category status to AP as it goes against the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission.
Jagan’s resignation threat came soon after the TDP said it may pull out of the NDA if justice was not done to AP. Clearly, Jagan does not want to be left behind in this “war” against the Centre.
Jagan has announced a road-map for the resignations. YSR Congress MLAs and MPs would participate in dharnas in front of district collector offices in AP on 1 March and the MPs would try to stall proceedings in Parliament from 5 March. They will also stage dharnas in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at the Parliament premises.
The YSR Congress is said to have planned that all its 41 MLAs will also resign from the state’s Assembly and Jagan would sit on a fast unto death in AP’s capital Amaravati. Jagan has coined a slogan for his MPs and MLAs: “Pratyeka hoda muddu, pratyeka package voddu’ (only special status is wanted, not special package). Jagan alleges that by deciding to accept a special package instead of special status, CM Naidu has betrayed AP.
Jagan, who is currently on a six month long padayatra (walkathon), has been telling people that only special status can ensure justice to the people of AP as it would secure 90% of Central funds for all the schemes as against the normal 60%.
“Special category status is the legitimate demand of the people of AP. If it was not promised to us, we wouldn’t have accepted the division of the state at the time. Chandrababu Naidu has no right to accept a special economic package in lieu of the special status,” said YSR Congress MP Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy.
However, TDP MP from Chittor N. Shiva Prasad told this newspaper that achieving special status was not possible at this juncture and fighting for a special package would ensure justice to the people of AP.