Imagine a person sitting in his free house enjoying his favourite sop on a free TV without having to think of the rising units on his electricity metre while having a subsidized meal.
This is Andhra Pradesh for you! Politicians of all hues have announced a range of sops, from rice at Rs 2 a kilo and free Colour TVs to 12 hours of free power and free house or a dole for the unemployed. One is even toying with the idea of paying the monthly cable TV subscription for their supporters.
The sudden flurry of sops has come as a surprise to most, as assembly elections are 20 months away. It seems, as if the parties are assuming that midterms polls are round the corner prompting them to dole out such extraordinary offers.
Leading the populist bandwagon is Nara Chandrababu Naidu, the former CEO of Andhra Pradesh Inc. Naidu, who during his nine years rule cut down on subsidies and initiated massive reforms causing hardship to common folk, has now embarked on an image makeover and announced a deluge of sops if his party was elected to power.
Incidentally, Naidu has a package for the rich and powerful in changing the existing laws to legitimatize sale of assigned lands.
The ruling Congress announced a revival of the Rs 2 per kg rice scheme that was started by TDP founder N T Ramarao, apart from providing free power to farmers and a massive housing programme to provide 40 lakh houses to the poor by yearend.