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Cong leaders of AP meet Manmohan Singh over special category issue

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New Delhi: A delegation of senior Congress leaders from Andhra Pradesh on Saturday met former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi to discuss the issue of special category status ahead of the people’s ballot planned by the APCC in the state.

Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee chief N Raghuveera Reddy, Rajya Sabha MP K V P Ramachandra Rao, Congress leader J D Seelam and former MLC G Rudra Raju met Singh at his residence for about an hour, and said “he has expressed his full support to our fight for the special category.”

The APCC has planned to conduct a referendum on the contentious issue and, Reddy said, “The ‘praja ballot’ would begin from September 28 from Tirupati.”

“During our meeting today, Manmohanji expressed concern over the non implementation of the special category status and also non-implementation of the factors incorporated in the state bifurcation act,” Reddy told reporters after the meet.

“He (Singh) also expressed his displeasure over dishonouring of the commitment made on the special status for the state during the UPA rule,” the APCC chief said, while alleging that “TDP and BJP have belittled the special status issue.”

Earlier, Manmohan Singh had made an appeal asking the Rajya Sabha to honour commitments made by him on February 20, 2014 on the floor of the Upper House to grant Special Status to Andhra Pradesh.

Rao said the referendum would begin from Tirupati as Modi, M Venkaiah Naidu and Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had made a promise to grant special status during election rallies in 2014, but “now they have gone back on it.”

“So, we want to educate the people, the youth and public bodies and intellectuals, and therefore this referendum would also raise awareness about the issue. It will be held over a few months time,” he said, adding, “Both TDP and BJP have deceived the people of Andhra Pradesh on the issue.”

The Centre recently granted a financial package to Andhra Pradesh that includes full funding of Pollavaram irrigation project, tax concessions and a special assistance, but stopped short of giving the state a special category status.

“This package is fake and nothing new. It is part of the state reorganisation act and the Centre is making it out to be something special for the state,” Reddy alleged.

PTI

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