Why didn’t Prime Minister Narendra Modi make any major allocations to Andhra Pradesh in the just presented Union budget in the Parliament?
Here is a funny anecdote doing rounds in the social media circles on Monday.
Just a day before the presentation of the Union budget in Lok Sabha, Modi convened a meeting of all important leaders including BJP president Amit Shah, finance minister Arun Jaitely, finance secretary and other officials of the finance department to discuss and finalise the budget proposals.
After going through the budget documents, Modi said: “This is fine. We are giving top priority to agriculture and rural development. I think it doesn’t require any changes. Jaitely ji, you can go ahead with it.”
And he looked at Amit Shah and asked him: “What do you say Shah ji?” Shah replied: “Yes of course. But…”
“Any problem? Please tell me,” said Modi. Before Shah said anything, finance secretary intervened and told the Prime Minister: “Sir, everything is okay. But we have not made any major allocations to Andhra Pradesh state, including for Polavaram, capital construction and railway zone etc. It may cause heart burn among the people of AP.”
He looked at Jaitely, but the finance minister turned to Modi indicating that Modi could take a decision.
Modi smiled at everybody. “Well, how can we allocate any funds to AP in the budget? In fact, we are planning to ask AP to grant us loans,” he said, much to the amusement of the party leaders and officials in the meeting.
He called his PA and asked him to bring something from his room. Within minutes, the PA brought a bundle of newspapers and dumped them on the table. They are different editions of Eenadu and Andhra Jyothy Telugu dailies.
Modi, then, asked the PA to read out each paper. And he started reading the headlines:
“Rs 10 lakh crore investments from investors in Visakhapatnam partnership summit
China to invest Rs 5 lakh crore in AP soon
Flood of investments from Somalia, nearly Rs 8 lakh crore to flow in next two years
Chandrababu Naidu firms up agreements at Davos to bring Rs 20 lakh crore investments into state
Lokesh Naidu on investment mobilisation in US, likely to fetch Rs 5 lakh crore
And from continent Mars, AP is going to get…”
“Stop,” said Modi, even as all the others in the meeting were still in a state of shock with their mouths open like frogs in Discovery Channel.
“So, so far, how much money Andhra Pradesh has got by now?” asked Modi. “Sir, it is around Rs 50 lakh crore,” said Jaitely, after making a quick calculation.
“What is our total budget outlay?
“Sir, it is Rs 25 lakh crore.”
“So, it is just around half of the investments AP is getting from different countries. Then, what more can we give them? With those investments, they construct international standard capital, complete Polavaram. And with regard to special category status, it is given to poor states which have no resources. What can we give anything more to the state which was getting crores of rupees of investments, giving crores of jobs, setting up more than 60 IT companies and constructing the world-class capital city. Just tell me, what we can give to AP?” Modi asked.
“Yes sir. We can’t do anything,” said all of them with one voice. “So, finalise this budget without any changes,” Modi said, before getting up from his chair indicating that the meeting is over.
While going out of the chambers, the Prime Minister turned to Amit Shah and said: “By the way, please call up Naidu ji and ask him to send Rs 10 lakh crore urgently. We need money as elections are fast approaching.”
Everybody was dumb-struck. Like our Andhra leaders, nobody dared to utter a word!