By Kommineni Srinivasa Rao

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is committing one mistake after another. On the one hand,he claims that the state is in deep economic trouble and on the other, he is borrowing thousands of crores of rupees. The scale on which the government has been spending money comes as a shock to everybody.

The latest shocker from Chandrababu Naidu is that farmers, students and others should take a look at the progress of construction of the Polavaram project, adding that he would provide a bus for them to visit the site. However, he did not disclose the account from which the expenditure was to be made. Canit be safely assumed that the expenditure would in any case come from people's money? How much would it cost to go to Polavaram in West Godavari from Kurnool district? Why would a common citizen bear this cost? Moreover, Polavaram remains an incomplete project, as of now. An average visitor cannot make much of it if he visits the site now. It is learnt that 22.5 crore rupees would be spent on those who would visit the Polavaram site. This would go on for three months and the expenditure would be borne by the department of water resources.

How is this department responsible for feeding those who visit the project site? In fact, if this is the amount being spent, one can understand the number of people who are likely to be transported to the place. At least 20 minor irrigation projects can be taken up within this budget. Instead of taking up such work, out of sheer craze for publicity is it right to spend such large amounts of public money?

Once Polavaram gets completed, those who are interested in seeing the progress of the project will go and see it for themselves. There may not be any government involvement in this. Chandrababu Naidu‘s actions and his antics are rather odd indeed! If rulers of earlier times had acted in a similar manner with respect to Nagarjuna Sagar, Pochampad and Srisailam projects, one can imagine how long the completion of these projects would have taken! Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy and Kasu Brahmananda Reddy did not turn them into projects which would generate them publicity. Their sole objective was to build projects which would be of benefit to the people of the undivided Andhra Pradesh state.

In truth, Chandrababu Naidu has nothing to do with the Polavaram project. This is precisely what BJP leaders, Somu Veeraraju and others have been saying. If the project has reached a certain stage of completion, the credit goes solely to the late Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy. Except Chandrababu Naidu, all political parties including many leaders in the TDP, endorse this fact. Everyone is also aware of the extent to which Chandrababu Naidu went to create hurdles in the path of Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy when it came to the same Polavaram project.

People may find it hard to believe that Chandrababu Naidu turned a deaf ear to the pleas of TDP MLAs, Erra Narayanaswamy and Vaddi Veerabhadra Rao among others, in the pre-2004 period when they asked for the Polavaram project. But that is the bare truth.

At the time of bifurcation of the state, Chandrababu Naidu did not want the Polavaram project to be declared as a national one. In the Andhra Pradesh State Reorganisation Act, the Manmohan Singh government had incorporated the Polavaram project terming it as a national project. Later, during PM Modi’s time funds were allocated through NABARD. In two years’ time about 5000 crore rupees were released by the Centre presumably for the completion of this project. Did Chandrababu Naidu have any say in this?

There is, to some extent, if one goes by the sequence of events which unfolded. Chandrababu Naidu took upon himself or the state government rather, the task of completing the project and hyped this fact to a great extent trying to use it to his political advantage. He tried to give the impression that he was overseeing the completion of the Polavaram project.

The Chandrababu Naidu government has come under a cloud with several charges of corruption with respect to the Polavaram project. Chandrababu is afraid that the Centre would foist cases upon him and charge him with corruption. No wonder he has been making strange statements these days. Take the case of his birthday event which he turned into a spectacle, spending 30 crore rupees. His supposed fast was a drain on the exchequer. Netizens had a field day on social media saying that if Chandrababu Naidu had his food every day the government would incur an expenditure of Rs.500 crores and that, the day he fasted, the government would have to spend Rs.30 crores!

The Chandrababu Naidu government which claimed all these days that the Polavaram project would be completed this year, has now started singing a different tune. Chandrababu Naidu now speaks as if the project and its completion are rather far-fetched. How long he will continue to fool the people in this manner remains to be seen!