Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has acquired a reputation for being a quick decision-maker, except that the decisions are rolled back just as quickly.
Political rivals dubbed him “Rollback CM” after a series of decisions Rao took upon becoming the first chief minister of the country’s newest state in June last year were shelved under public pressure.
“When a CM takes a decision, he should consider all the pros and cons beforehand. Rao is driven by momentary emotions. His decisions prove he lacks the maturity to head a state,” Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, working president, Telangana Congress, told HT.
The CM, on his part, has put up a wavering defence of his decisions, only to yield quickly to swelling resentment from various quarters.
Limiting scholarships to those whose parents settled in the state before 1956, re-registration of vehicles with a Telangana code and appointment of Parliament secretaries are some of the orders that were rolled back after the government was rapped by the Hyderabad high court.
Decisions put on hold after incurring the wrath of activists, students, political parties and common people include plans to construct a new secretariat building compliant with vastu and shifting of a chest hospital outside the city for the purpose, demolition of the Nizam-era Osmania hospital building to make way for swanky twin towers, and taking of Osmania University land for housing the poor.
The most recent example where the Rao government’s volte-face became prominent was the decision to introduce cheap liquor. Advertising it as a substitute to gudumba (locally distilled country liquor), excise minister Padma Rao displayed cheap liquor bottles at a press conference held at the secretariat a few days back.
Following protests by women, the CM described it as a decision taken after much thought and consultation, saying despite a revenue loss it was “in the interest of women”. However, after a cabinet meeting, he said it was decided to withdraw the proposal.
Political analysts see this frequent shifting of stand as weakening the firm image presented by Rao.
“There is no debate on any proposal. Rao plans something and the state machinery is compelled to follow that diktat,” Kishan Reddy, state BJP president, said.
Lok Sabha MP and Rao’s daughter K Kavitha says the liquor decision was an isolated case and insists all decisions are taken by prioritising public interest.
“The CM puts forward an idea with his vast knowledge of state issues but he does elicit others’ views. In case of a mixed reaction from the public, he calls for further discussions,” a senior CMO official said.
A senior journalist says there is a method to the madness. “It is Rao’s old trait to throw a stone in the lake to gauge the ripples. A decision of his is never final till it is implemented.”