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In the game one-upmanship, KCR, Naidu ‘wasting public money’

Whether it’s KCR’s initiative to introduce ‘She-Cabs’ in Telangana or N Chandrababu Naidu’s government’s decision to launch ‘She-Autos’ in Andhra, both CMs are seen by many in the states wasting public money for their ‘personal prestige’.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2017 08:42 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and his Andhra Pradesh counterpart N Chandrababu Naidu.

The long-standing political rivalry between Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and his Andhra Pradesh counterpart N Chandrababu Naidu is set to assume spectacular proportions.

Days after Rao announced that the new state secretariat in Secunderabad will resemble the iconic Federal Building of Chicago in the United States and the National Palace of Dominican Republic, Naidu is expected to approve the design for the under-construction state legislature in the new capital of Amaravati that will mirror the famous Kohinoor diamond.

The rivalry between the two has been legendary with both matching each other, decision for decision. When Rao acquired a swanky Rs 5 crore bullet-proof Mercedes Benz bus in July 2015 for his district tours, Naidu followed suit within a month, placing the order for a similar hi-tech bus at the same cost. And when the Telangana chief minister moved into a palatial official bungalow at Begumpet, the Andhra leader too ordered the refurbishing of his official residence at Vundavalli near Vijayawada.

The list of copycat decisions by the two chief ministers is long: Rao’s initiative to introduce ‘She-Cabs’ for women drivers in Telangana prompted the Andhra government headed by Naidu to launch its version of ‘She-Autos’ in the state. When Rao flagged off the meal scheme for Rs 5 a plate for the poor in Hyderabad, Naidu replicated it with his own subsidised Anna canteens in his state.

Fabled rivalry
Both order hi-tech Mercedes Benz bus for their travel.
Rao launches Rs 5 per meal scheme for poor. Naidu launches Anna Canteens.
Rao engages Hafiz contractor to design secretariat. Naidu also engages same architect.
Telangana launches ‘She-Cab’ scheme for women drivers. Naidu introduces ‘She-Autos’ in Andhra Pradesh.
Naidu introduces start-up village for IT incubators in Visakhapatnam. Rao starts T-Hub in Hyderabad.

Though competition is generally seen to be healthy, not everyone in Andhra and Telangana is impressed by the game of one-upmanship by the two chief ministers. “Unfortunately, both are wasting public money for their personal prestige. When there is already a secretariat in Telangana, it is a sheer waste of public money by Rao to go in for a new one. Similarly, Naidu is spending crores of rupees on just to get fancy designs for Amaravati government buildings, while the local architecture students can give better designs,” lamented Alla Ramakrishna Reddy, YSR Congress party legislator.

Rao and Naidu, however, remain undeterred and continue to ape each other. Mumbai-based architect Hafiz Contractor has been tasked give shape to Rao’s dream secretariat in Secunderabad and Naidu’s government complex in Amravati. The same contracting firm — Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd — is also engaged in executing pet projects of the two chief ministers: Lift irrigation schemes in Pattiseema and Muchumarri in Andhra Pradesh and a similar project in Kaleshwaram in Telangana.

But among all projects and schemes, the new Secunderabad secretariat and the upcoming government complex in Amravati hold special significance for Rao and Naidu. The secretariat, to cost Rs 500 crore, and the Amaravati complex to span 1,350 acres are lasting legacies that both intend to leave behind. Rao approved the design for the secretariat last week. Not willing to lag behind, Naidu is set to put his stamp of approval for the Kohinoor design of the state legislature as he competes with the other chief minister to create what he believes will be his crowning glory.

First Published: Sep 13, 2017 07:37 IST