While Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati is busy unveiling statues and Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit is struggling to reassure irate Delhiites by issuing dire warnings to power discoms, their Andhra Pradesh counterpart, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, has done a silent Marie Antoinette. Just like the ill-fated French queen offered the hungry masses cake instead of bread, Mr Reddy has decided that he will quench the rural residents’ thirst for clean drinking water with the urban bottled variety.
Well, gone are the good old days when the unwashed masses could be appeased by the odd nylon sari or fistfuls of free grain. Come Independence Day, not only will half the villages of the water-starved state have mineral water delivered to their doorstep, ‘city-like’, but this will be preceded by nine-hour free power supply to the agriculture sector from next month. What’s more, the success of these schemes is to be ensured not just by the construction of new bottling plants, but also by a profusion of helipads in every mandal headquarter for the CM to hop around for ‘surprise visits’.
For the state governments of Delhi and Haryana, sweating over debilitating power cuts and acute water shortages in the National Capital Region, Mr Reddy’s plan could perhaps provide a breath of fresh air. Instead of bottling up their woes, they could open their coffers and offer air-conditioned cars to help citizens beat the sweltering heat —- with subsidised fuel thrown in, of course. Now this might not drive the enervating heat out, but it will give us the feeling that we’re steering into cooler times.