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Telangana issue may be put on back-burner, hints CM

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy on Sunday gave enough hints that the separate Telangana issue may be put on the back-burner and was not unduly worried about the low representation for his state in Union Cabinet.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, Jerusalem
UPDATED ON MAY 31, 2009 12:06 PM IST

Buoyed by Congress' resounding electoral win, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy on Sunday gave enough hints that the separate Telangana issue may be put on the back-burner and was not unduly worried about the low representation for his state in Union Cabinet, notwithstanding his party leaders' anguish.

On a pilgrimage here to Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus Christ, he said the party leaders in Delhi were not hopeful of such a virtual sweep by Congress in the Lok Sabha polls in Andhra Pradesh, which returned 33 MPs out of 42, the largest chunk sent by any state to the Congress' kitty in the current election.

"Even our leaders in Delhi didn't expect us to perform so well. Pranab Mukherjee told me that we in Andhra have shown that development and good performance can yield good results. Despite all the problems, new parties (had) been formed, alliances created, we performed well. I am really glad about it," he told PTI in an interview.

On the issue of a separate Telengana state, Reddy said that his party has categorically stated in the assembly that it does not oppose its formation "in principle" and it can only be a part of a comprehensive plan.

"All we want is that new problems should not arise while addressing a problem like this. While trying to solve a certain problem, we are not supposed to create new problems. So all the issues will have to be addressed before any final decision gets taken", he said.

"To address these problems we have appointed a committee of MLAs and MLCs which will go into the depth of the problem. Try to find tangible solutions to these problems and then go ahead with separate statehood for Telengana", the Chief Minister said.

Reddy also did not seem to be miffed at the low representation given to Andhra Pradesh in the Union Council of Ministers
despite having won 33 out of 42 parliamentary seats.

"It is not the Congress party's government alone at the centre. We have got to be accommodative to other parties also. So one or two less ministerial berths really does not harm the interest of Andhra Pradesh.

"We are interested in getting more central assistance for the state with a Congress government in the state and a Congress-led UPA government at the Centre," he said.
Even during the last five years, the state did get some good benefits from the government of India, Reddy said, adding

"I am sure we will get more during this five year term."
Reddy explained that his party's landslide victory in the state was due to the credibility of Congress and his government's performance during the last five years.

"Congress party romped home in both parliamentary and assembly polls with a sizeable number because of its credibility, because of its performance.

"Congress party could show to the people of Andhra Pradesh that in contemporary politics, nowhere in the country, either in development or in welfare, no one else did what the Congress party did in Andhra Pradesh," he said.About Chandrababu Naidu who described Congress' win in Andhra Pradesh as a 'victory by default', Reddy charged that the TDP leader was trying to "hoodwink" the people.

"He (Naidu) claims that it is only because of the opposition parties' votes getting split that the Congress party won... His alliance got 35 per cent of the votes while his party alone got 27-28 per cent. Almost a ten per cent fall from what it had got in the last elections.

"Well ultimately in democracy arithmetics do have a bearing and it is a matter of fact that all the opposition parties together got 2 per cent less than what we got in assembly elections and they got 5 per cent less than us in the parliamentary elections in the state," Reddy said.

Touching on the pressing issue of power crisis in his state, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister said his government has done well to tackle the situation and he hopes the state will soon have power surplus.

"From whatever we have done in Andhra Pradesh during the past five years, I can today say that we are out of power crisis. May be very soon, in the course of next 15-20 days, there will be no power shortage in Andhra Pradesh and what we are contemplating to do in the course of next three to four years is to see to it that Andhra Pradesh is becoming a power surplus state," he said.

Outlining the priorities for the state in his second term as Chief Minister, Reddy said that his administration would focus on improving the lot of the farmers by introducing new projects that would increase their income.

"Andhra Pradesh realises that 60 per cent of the population is dependent only on agriculture. Everything has to be done to see to it that both production and productivity per acre has to go up.

"In this context, we are very soon going to start new and totally novel projects in 50 villages in the state of Andhra Pradesh where in we are going to form new types of village cooperatives," the Chief Minister said.

Explaining the model being worked out, Reddy hinted at 'Israeli communes' or collective settlements, and also at the use of other successful techniques in other parts of world.

"All the land in the village will get pooled up by the villagers into a cooperative and government will provide sufficient seed capital, will leverage lots of bank loans. We want to develop the entire village as a model village not only by way of regular agriculture but also by way of green house agriculture techniques. Fisheries, poultry, dairies and goat and ship rearing will be promoted," Reddy said.

"In a particular village if 30-40 crore rupees of capital comes by the way of governmental subsidies/assistance and by way of banks we can achieve a lot. Our major problem in the country as of now and also in the state is that our farmers have small holdings. Good mechanisation and advanced technology are not applied by them because of the constraints involved."

In order to take this mission ahead, Reddy said that he would consult all political parties and seek their support in evolving a model by consensus to the benefit of the farmers.

"If only what we call scaling it up or apply the logistics of scaling it up through more mechanisation, pooling land in a village, and even in sowing of paddy bring in lot more mechanisation like what they do in Vietnam, things will see a remarkable change.

"Major agricultural farms when managed in a very sophisticated manner ultimately lead to greater output. That way the farmer's income can go up two to three folds," the Chief Minister noted.

"We are trying to plan this on a trial basis in about 50 villages in the state. We want to do it very soon. We want to involve all the political parties in this experiment", Reddy said.

He leader discounted media reports about the unhealthy state of finances in the state and his efforts to seek world bank assistance.

"All these are part of the game when we are addressing the problems. Slowing down of economy is not peculiar to Andhra Pradesh but inspite of that our state performed better than all India average. I think we will be one percentage point above the all India average. So despite problems we have done well. We have to borrow loans here and there. Go to World Bank. That is nothing uncommon or unusual about it," he argued.

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