In another U-turn, KCR decides to implement Centre’s Ayushman Bharat scheme
Dropping its confrontationist stand against the Centre, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government, headed by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, has decided to implement the central scheme of Ayushman Bharat, which it had been against for the last two years.
The decision to implement the scheme was conveyed to the Centre by Telangana chief secretary Somesh Kumar during a video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.
“The chief secretary informed the PM that the chief minister has taken a decision to dovetail Arogyasri health scheme of Telangana government with Ayushman Bharat scheme of Government of India,” a brief official note from the state government said.
Health minister Eatala Rajender said on Thursday that the state government had decided in principle to implement Ayushman Bharat scheme of the Centre in the state from this year. “Whether it is a central scheme or the state scheme, it will be implemented only with public money,” he said.
Ever since Ayushman Bharat was introduced in September 2018, KCR, as the Telangana chief minister is known, has been strongly resisting it and refusing to implement it in Telangana, stating that his government’s Arogyasri scheme was much better than Ayushman Bharat, which would benefit hardly a few lakh people.
He even declared that Ayushman Bharat was a poor imitation of Telangana’s Arogyasri scheme. In the 2019 general elections, the BJP leaders, including Union home minister Amit Shah, made it a big issue during their campaign, accusing KCR of denying the benefits of Ayushman Bharat to the poor people.
“It is good that KCR has changed his mind on Ayushman Bharat. But he should tender an apology to the people of Telangana for refusing to implement the scheme in the last two years,” BJP state president Bandi Sanjay said.
The change in KCR’s stand on Ayushman Bharat comes within three days of his U-turn on implementation of contentious central laws on agriculture. It was only on Sunday that the chief minister declared that the state government would hereafter not be involved in sale and purchase of agriculture produce, since the new farm laws were being implemented across the country.
Stating that the government had incurred a loss of Rs 7,500 crore on purchase of agriculture commodities last season to ensure Minimum Support Price (MSP) to farmers hit by pandemic, he declared that the state was not a business organisation or trader to purchase the produce every year.
It was only a few months ago that the TRS had voted against the farm bills in Parliament. The party leaders made strong statements against the agriculture bills and also took part in the Bharat Bandh programme held in the first week of December.
KCR even announced that he would hold a national conclave in Hyderabad in the third week of December by consolidating all anti-BJP forces to fight against the Centre’s agriculture laws.
Senior journalist and political analyst Suresh Dharur said the change in KCR’s stand towards the Modi government was pretty evident after his Telangana Rashtra Samithi faced shocking debacles in Dubbak assembly by-polls in November and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections in early December.
“Apparently, KCR has sensed that the Bharatiya Janata Party is emerging as a strong force. If he continues to adopt a confrontationist attitude towards the Centre, he is going to lose further ground to the BJP in the state. That is why he has decided to drop his anti-Modi stand,” Dharur said.
According to him, KCR appears to be following the path of Naveen Patnaik and YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, his counterparts in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, respectively, of cosying up to the BJP’s central leadership, thereby getting maximum benefits to the state in the form of approvals to new projects and additional funds.
“If KCR remains friendly with the Centre, the state-level BJP leaders won’t have the chance of going aggressive against the TRS. This will also create some sort of confusion among the BJP cadres,” Dharur observed.