Government will honour commitment to Andhra: Jaitley

New Delhi  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday assured the Rajya Sabha that the government will honour the commitments made to Andhra Pradesh post-bifurcation of the state, as the upper house witnessed a spat between the treasury and opposition benches over the issue. Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated to form the new state of Telangana in 2014. "Keeping the limitation in mind what the 14th finance commission has said... Keeping in mind whatever commitments have been made, each one of them is going to be honoured," Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha. The minister was speaking after Congress members raised the issue of granting special status to Andhra Pradesh. Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, raising the issue, said: "After long standing demand, Telangana state was formed. Hyderabad was the biggest issue... after consideration it was decided Hyderabad will go to Telangana. But Andhra Pradesh faced revenue loss." Azad said then prime minister Manmohan Singh had announced additional measures on the floor of Rajya Sabha which included special status for Andhra Pradesh for five years and tax concession among others. "I want to ask what happened to the special status," Azad said. Joining him, Congress MP Digvijaya Singh said BJP members, who were then in opposition, wanted to give special status to Andhra Pradesh for 10 years. "Venkaiah Naidu demanded it should be for 10 years. Now that you are in government please honour your commitment," he said. Some Congress members trooped near the chairman's podium, creating a ruckus. As protests continued, TDP member from Telangana C.M. Ramesh slammed the Congress for politicising the issue. "Thanks to Congress at least after two years they realised that the state bifurcation is wrong," Ramesh said. "Congress killed the father and mother and is now crying over orphans... They want to take political mileage, that is why they are doing this drama," he said. Amid protests by Congress members, Jaitley assured that the central government is committed to the state. "The center is fully committed to helping the newly created state after bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Last year was the first year after creation of the state... There are several commitments which are involved in the Andhra Pradesh bifurcation act," he said. "The center is going to honour each of those commitments in letter and in spirit," he said.

Jaitley said the 14th finance commission has measured the revenue deficit for the term of the 14th finance commission. "Each paisa and each rupee of that revenue deficit is being paid to Andhra Pradesh and we will continue to pay that," he said. "As far as the first year before the 14th finance commission is concerned, there was a large revenue deficit that the state has represented. Last year some amount has been paid. This year some amount will be paid, and the center will keep supporting the state of Andhra Pradesh," he said. Jaitley also said that funds have been allocated for the institutions that have to be created in Andhra Pradesh, and the construction of a new capital is also making considerable headway. Congress members, however, continued to create a ruckus, despite efforts of the chair.  "This is most unbecoming behaviour on the part of the members," Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien said. The house was also briefly adjourned for five minutes before the question hour.