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Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has said that his party would not support the delimitation (of Assembly constituencies) in Andhra Pradesh unless the Centre granted special category status (SCS) to the state.
The Congress leader reportedly told a delegation from Andhra Pradesh yesterday that their party's support to the Delimitation Bill would be subject to Centre fulfilling the promises made in the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, and the promise made by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Rajya Sabha on granting SCS to Andhra Pradesh.
This decision by the Congress is a setback to the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) which was hoping that a Bill related to the delimitation of constituencies, increasing the number of Assembly seats from the present 175 to 225, would come up in Parliament during the monsoon session.
Given the numbers in Rajya Sabha, where the NDA is now in minority, Congress' support will be crucial to pass the Delimitation Bill.
"We want the BJP-led NDA government, of which the TDP is a constituent, to honour the promises, particularly with regard to SCS and establishment of a railway zone at Visakhapatnam. Otherwise, Rahul (Gandhi) has told us not to support the Delimitation Bill," PCC president N Raghuveera Reddy said.
Increasing the number of Assembly seats is politically critical for the TDP in 2019. It had been pressuring the Centre to complete the formality, which incidentally was enshrined in the Reorganisation Act.
The Centre initially said in Parliament that the exercise would not be undertaken before 2026 but later Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu took up the issue personally with Home Minister Rajnath Singh at the behest of the TDP.
"Opposing the delimitation is yet another betrayal. The Congress has already done grave injustice to AP by illogically dividing the state," Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said.
"Rahul Gandhi's opposition to the enhancement of Assembly seats amounts to political and social betrayal. It is atrocious that the Congress party, which enacted the Reorganisation Act, is now opposing certain provisions of the same law," Yanamala said in a statement.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)