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BJP claims Telangana credit

New Delhi, Feb. 21: The BJP has claimed full credit for the passage of the Telangana bill in Parliament, stating: “The success or failure of the legislation in both Houses depended on the BJP. The balance of power was with the BJP. We decided to lead in favour of Telangana, which has been our long-standing demand.”

In a statement issued today, Rajya Sabha Opposition leader, Arun Jaitley — who consistently advocated the line that there was no contradiction between creating a separate Telangana and giving “adequate justice” to the people of Seemandhra — said: “We used all parliamentary tactics available to pursue this end.”

First, Jaitley maintained that as the largest Opposition party, the BJP had the “balance of power in numbers”.

“On the floor of the Rajya Sabha we were, therefore, able to extract from the government the commitment that Seemandhra would get a special category status for five years,” he said, apart from coaxing other promises like tax incentives for investments, a backward region package for Rayalaseema and north coastal Andhra, facilities of rehabilitation and resettlement for those who might forfeit their land and houses to the Polavaram irrigation project, and getting the Centre to underwrite the cost of the resource gap Seemandhra might suffer until such time the 14th Finance Commission fixes its entitlement.

“This package is fairly reasonable and would substantially look after the interests of Seemandhra,” Jaitley noted.

He claimed that if required, the BJP would facilitate securing the Centre’s support for constructing Seemandhra’s new capital.

Keen to counter the Congress’s campaign of the BJP falling between two stools in the Telangana affair and possibly ending up making zero gains in the new state and Seemandhra, Jaitley said: “As the dust settles down, it would become clear that even though the BJP was traditionally a smaller political group in undivided Andhra Pradesh, it performed its duty and tried to be fair between the two dividing regions of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh.”

The Congress’s reading was that the BJP’s endorsement of Telangana snuffed out its chances of forging an alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and reduced it as a marginal player in the new state where the Congress hoped to tie-up with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

The BJP’s unequivocal backing for the Telangana bill in the Lok Sabha left the TDP crestfallen, a reason why Jaitley and his Rajya Sabha colleagues decided to change tack in the upper House and “force” the Centre to make concrete assurances for Seemandhra.