Vendetta politics doesn’t serve Andhra Pradesh’s interests | Opinion
While nobody can begrudge a democratically elected government’s decision to review what it considers as wrong steps taken by its predecessors, an almost en-masse negation of all steps taken earlier is not a wise course.Updated: Aug 25, 2019 18:09 IST
In an ideal world, politics should be a clash of ideas and ideologies rather than mere personalities. However, in the real world, especially in relatively nascent democracies, politics revolves around individuals. Which is why maybe, that the recently elected Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh has gone after all schemes implemented or cleared by the former Chandrababu Naidu led Telugu Desam Party government.
While nobody can begrudge a democratically elected government’s decision to review what it considers as wrong steps taken by its predecessors, an almost en-masse negation of all steps taken earlier is not a wise course. Look at the recent steps taken by the Jagan administration.
Work has almost come to a full stop on the Polavaram irrigation project after the current tenders were cancelled and fresh tenders were called for. Only the intervention of the high court which has stayed the state’s move for the present, means that there is an impasse pending judicial review.
The Andhra government also cancelled all Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) which were signed by the previous regime raising the question of sanctity of signed agreements. Banks have lent nearly Rs 40,000 crore to these power producers. If the PPAs are struck down, loans are likely to become Non-Performing Assets (NPAs), adding to the present burden of the banking sector.
Jagan’s government also terminated the contract for the Rs 18,000 crore Machilipatnam seaport project and the 400-odd acres allotted to it is slated to be taken back. Ironically, the Machilipatnam project was originally cleared by Jagan’s father Y S Rajashekara Reddy (YSR) when he was the CM of undivided Andhra Pradesh. The tenders for construction of the project though were awarded during the previous TDP regime.
Work on building the new capital Amaravati has almost come to a standstill with various projects stalled. There is even talk of the capital being shifted with municipal administration minister Botcha Satynaryana openly alluding to this. This has led to nearly halving of real estate prices in Amaravati. With work on various projects stalled, thousands of construction workers have lost their jobs.
There is now talk of either Donakonda or Kadapa the powerbase of Jagan’s family being mentioned as the new alternative locations for the state capital.
The state secretariat is proposed to be shifted from its current location of Velagapudi in Amaravati to Guntur. More than Rs 200 crores were spent on the current secretariat buildings. Nearly 2500 government employees with their families had moved from Hyderabad—after the division of the state—to Amaravati, who might have to shift again.
It is not just about cancellation of mega projects. The Jagan government has been on renaming spree. While the TDP government names most projects after N T Rama Rao, it is YSR’s name that is bandied about by the current Andhra government.
For instance, a healthcare scheme for the poor was renamed from ‘NTR Vaidya Seva’ to ‘YSR Arogyasri.’ Similarly, a social security pension scheme for the poor was renamed from ‘NTR Bharosa’ to ‘YSR Pension Kanuka.’ A subsidy scheme for farmers and a children school enrollment programme have been similarly renamed in honour of YSR.
Anna canteens which provided subsidized food to the urban poor have been closed with talk of it reappearing under the new YSR moniker over the next couple of months.
Controversially, the government has also decided to reserve 75% of all jobs in the state for locals, without clearly defining who is a local.
At a personal level, the security detail of the former CM Naidu has been cut down drastically. Drones apparently were flown near the residence of Naidu, though the state government later clarified that it was done to assess the damage due to the prevalent flood situation.
Exchanges on the floor of the assembly between the CM and the leader of opposition have became personal rather than issue oriented. All of these don’t bode well for Andhra.
Again, while it is nobody’s argument that wrong policies and decision taken by the previous government should not be reviewed or cancelled, en-masse action against all steps taken by them is a not a decidedly wise course of action. For industry and business, a consistent policy framework is sine-qua-non in making investment decisions. If agreements are cancelled with every change of government, then they will be loath to make long-term investments in the state.
Also, Jagan Reddy is just 46 years, very young by Indian political standards and has a long innings ahead of him. With 151 seats of the 175 in the assembly, 22 of the 25 Lok Sabha members from the YSRCP, the party he heads, he is at present unassailable. He should spend his political capital wisely rather than indulge in vendetta politics which serves neither his interests nor that of Andhra.
First Published: Aug 25, 2019 18:09 IST