K. Ramachandra Murthy
Four years of TDP rule in Andhra Pradesh has been marked by controversies, political skulduggery and outright deception. There is virtually nothing for Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu to show as an achievement at the end of the fourth year. People who voted for Naidu hoping that he would utilise forty years of political experience in building the residual State of AP feel cheated. Most of the 600 plus promises made in the election manifesto have not been implemented. Even the few that were attempted remained partly fulfilled as they were not taken seriously.
The critical election promise that made the difference was waiving of farm loans. YSRCP chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy did not make the promise deliberately since he thought that the government cannot afford to spare the funds that would be needed to implement it genuinely. Naidu, on the other hand, not only made the promise, but also asked the farmers not to repay the loans and assured them that the gold they pledged in banks would be released by his government. The promise is yet to be fully implemented. Naidu, in his election campaign, told the people that he would attest his first signature on the loan waiver order. He did not sign on the day he took oath exactly four years ago. Instead, he appointed the Kotaiah Committee to prepare the guidelines for the waiver. The Committee came up with a number of conditions effectively bringing down the burden on the State government from Rs 87,612 cr. to Rs 24,500 cr out of which Rs 13,464 cr. has been paid in instalments during the four years. The significance of the first signature has thus been diluted and farmers were taken for a ride. Naidu also promised to write off the loans, amounting to Rs 14,205, taken by the DWCRA groups. That did not happen. He offered to give Rs 10,000 each for every woman as investment. That promise also remained unfulfilled. As a result, the farm loans have soared to Rs 1,21,933 cr, including interest and the total loans of the DWCRA groups rose to Rs 20,666 cr.
On the political front, the TDP supremo did all kinds of feats he is known for. He had electoral alliance with the BJP and film actor Pawan Kalyan, youngest brother of super star Chiranjeevi in 2014. At the end of the fourth year, he parted ways with both of them. He is now trying to blame Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the NDA government for all his failures and inability to perform. By arousing anti-Modi and anti-Centre sentiment, he is planning to drive the voters emotionally and exploit the situation at the hustings to his advantage. Making and ditching friends is a pastime for him. The TDP fought 1994 elections in the company of the Communist parties. After dethroning NTR and taking over as chief minister, Naidu famously said that tourism is more important than communism. Leaving the comrades in the lurch, he went ahead to have alliance with the BJP which is in the extreme right while the comrades were in the Left. After losing in 2004 elections, in which he continued alliance with the BJP, he turned to old pals for an understanding for 2009 elections. Not only the two mainstream Communist parties, the party that was wedded to separate State of Telangana, the TRS, was also roped in to make it a Grand Alliance. The TDP was founded by the thespian to keep the Telugus united. NTR’s son-in-law, Naidu, did not have any sentiments about the party’s philosophy. Winning somehow, by hook or by crook, was his ultimate aim. Come 2014 elections, here was Naidu courting the party that he deserted ten years ago. The BJP had waited for a nod from YS Jagan Mohan Reddy for a tie-up. When the young leader said he would go it alone and would not have anything to do with the BJP or the Congress, the saffron party had no option other than agreeing to an alliance with the TDP. There was a Modi wave and the film star brought some votes helping the TDP win by a wafer-thin margin. Naidu, the chief minister, indulged in all types of political immorality to persuade 23 YSRCP MLAs and three MPs to defect to the TDP. Speaker Kodela Sivaprasad has been sitting for years on the letters given by the YSRCP to disqualify the defecting MLAs.
Corruption, in Naidu’s third term, had started right on the day one. Soil, sand, mines and liquor were the sources of corruption. Irrigation is another major source. The Janmabhoomi Committees (JCs) enjoy all the powers that were meant for Gram Panchayats and other local bodies. The members of JCs decide who should be paid pension and who should be given house. The devolution of funds and powers to the local bodies as envisaged in 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution was seldom done. It goes without saying that the JCs are manned by TDP workers. MLAs are all-powerful dictating terms to the officials. In his earlier terms, Naidu used to support the bureaucrats vis-a`-vis politicians. The bureaucrats are now at the mercy of the unscrupulous politicians.
The crowds attracted by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s walkathon have been bothering Naidu so much that when he talks he loses control over himself. The feeling of insecurity that has been haunting Naidu, is sought to be overcome by exhibition of superiority complex. He has become a butt of jokes by claiming his hand in every success registered by anybody and everybody not even remotely connected to him. That he is the senior most politician in the country and the most spotless one at that besides being the builder of Hyderabad has been repeated by him without any sense of modesty or decency. The talk of the dream capital city of Amaravati has been going on for four years even without a brick being laid. He has been jetting around the world in his private aircraft in the name of bringing industries and finding suitable designs for the capital city. The Polavaram project, which was supposed to be built by the Centre, has been thoroughly mismanaged. Even the flyover at the Durga temple in Vijayawada, taken up more than three years ago, is nowhere near completion. One can go on and on citing the failures whereas finding an example of success, is next to impossible. The four years that had gone by have been fruitless and wasted without any tangible benefits for the residual State. The year that is left will not be anything different if one goes by the chief minister’s track record.