Jagan’s first year as Andhra chief minister marked by welfare and vengeance, say experts
YSR Congress party president and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy will be completing one year in office on Saturday, a period in which he has earned both bouquets and brickbats.
A slew of welfare schemes implemented by Jagan has by and large consolidated his vote bank at the grassroots level and fetched him a lot of goodwill. The establishment of village secretariats to bring the administration to the villages and the appointment of over three lakh village volunteers were landmarks that helped the government directly deliver the benefits of various schemes, be it pensions or ration, to the beneficiaries at their doorsteps.
His entire focus during the last one year was on delivering the promises made during his marathon 3,600-km long padayatra in the run-up to the general elections. “He has done tremendous social engineering in the implementation of his manifesto in the name of Navaratnas (nine jewels), so that every vulnerable section of the society that forms his vote bank benefitted from his schemes,” political analyst and Osmania University professor K Nageshwar said.
He pointed out that schemes like Amma Vodi, enhanced pensions and fee reimbursement had won him a lot of support from the people. “Even in the formation of his cabinet and filling up of various nominated posts, Jagan had followed this social engineering – providing 50 per cent of the posts to SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities and women,” Nageshwar said.
However, Jagan’s acts of vengeance against his political rivals, confrontation with constitutional systems and a host of other controversial decisions taken without proper homework, reflected his inexperience in administration and incurred the wrath of the judiciary.
For a man, who led his party to victory with a landslide majority – 151 out of 175 state assembly seats and 22 out of 25 Lok Sabha seats with nearly 50 per cent vote share, it should have been a smooth sailing in the administration.
But from the day one, Jagan’s action allowed an impression to gain ground that he was vengeful towards opposition Telugu Desam Party in general and his bête noire N Chandrababu Naidu in particular, who, he believed was responsible for his imprisonment for 16 months between 2012 and 2013 in the alleged illegal assets case.
In his first public speech minutes after being sworn-in as the chief minister, Jagan made his intentions clear: undo whatever his predecessor had done. So, he announced that all the ongoing works taken up by the Naidu government would be stopped immediately.
As a result, several projects worth thousands of crores, including works on Amaravati capital city and Polavaram major irrigation project, had come to a halt for several months. Many of the projects like Amaravati core capital works by Singapore Consortium, Machilipatnam Port, Krishnapatnam Port SEZ, Convention Centre by Lulu group at Visakhapatnam, Adani group’s data centre at Viskahapatnam etc have been shelved.
The Jagan government claimed to have saved a few hundreds of crores in the name of “reverse tendering” for projects like Polavaram and Veligonda, but the projects are yet to take off in full swing and the cost overrun due to the delay in projects may turn out to be much more than what has been saved.
“Right from the beginning, Jagan has been adopting a destructive and vengeful attitude, which was evident from the demolition of convention hall Praja Vedika. Reducing the security cover for Naidu, slapping a demolition notice on his riverfront residence near Vijayawada or foiling an opposition protest rally at Atmakur in Palnadu region and targeting individual TDP leaders by destroying their financial roots, were some of the examples of Jagan’s vendetta politics,” alleged TDP official spokesperson Panchurmarthi Anuradha.
Jagan ordered several inquiries alleging insider trading in the land acquisition for Amaravati, but nothing has been proved till date, she pointed out.
The decision to shift the administrative capital from Amaravati to Visakhapatnam has been one of the many controversial decisions taken by Jagan and thousands of farmers who had given away 34,000 acres of lands for the capital have been agitating against the move, but the chief minister is unmoved.
Besides, several controversial decisions like the review of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) signed during the previous TDP regime with solar and wind power producers, introduction of English medium in government schools, abolition of legislative council just for referring the three-capitals bills to the select committee, removal of state election commissioner by promulgating ordinance and painting of government buildings with YSRC party colours have come under the scanner of judiciary.
“While there is no doubt that Jagan has been able to fulfill most of the promises he made for the poor people by taking up welfare programmes, there has been not a single industry or infrastructure project worth naming during the last one year. Welfare and development are like two wheels of the cart, but the Jagan government is totally imbalanced due to the neglect of developmental programmes,” observes political analyst Srinivas Rao Manchala.
However, the YSRC says it has been an eventful year for the government. “We have been able to provide four lakh jobs in village and ward secretariats within four months of taking the oath,” Jagan claimed, while addressing the beneficiaries of his schemes through a video conference on Friday.
“The system has been so effective that in the times of coronavirus, three rounds of household surveys were held and the pension, ration, rice and dal were provided by the social delivery system of village and ward volunteers,” he said.