Kommineni Srinivasa Rao
In an apparently new drama before the 2019 elections, Chandrababu's cabinet decisions pertaining to Kadapa steel plant and Visakhapatnam metro rail are certainly aimed at wooing the public in the upcoming elections. As per the decision, the Rayalaseema Steel Corporation would be set up to look after the steel plant's formation. In addition, the steel plant should be seen as an opportunity to create political posts for the TDP leaders.
In this regard, the cabinet passed a resolution to finance for the steel plant besides Central funds and private investments. It is estimated that a whopping Rs 15,000 crore would have to be pooled for the steel plant. It may be recalled that Chandrababu Naidu criticized the then CM late Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy, who had expedited the steel industry formation with private companies. With the help of his yellow media, Chandrababu tried to create a perception that the State government was giving away lands which were home to precious animals and birds.
With Dr.YSR's sudden death, the investments in steel industry stopped at Rs 1,200 crore. Lack of progress in steel industry after the mass leader's death should be attributed to Congress party. Later, in the AP State Reorganization Act, 2014, it was promised that the Centre would assess the possibilities for setting up the steel plant. However, the BJP government cited reports that suggested bleak chances for the formation of the Kadapa steel plant.
It was only after falling-out with the BJP in the NDA that the TDP leaders took a new narrative for the demand for the steel plant. With a view to overshadow the YRSCP's protests in demand for the steel plant, TDP MP CM Ramesh also staged protests.
With the cabinet decision, the TDP plans to promote itself by crediting itself for taking up the steel plant project with Rs 15,000 crore budget, all on its own. In fact, the State government would have begun the steel plant work when the TDP was in the NDA, if it really was capable of funding such a project. Chandrababu would look to blame it on the Centre before the elections, with respect to the steel plant promise in the AP State Reorganisation Act.
Irrespective of whether the foundation stone for the steel plant were to be laid next month or not, everyone is aware that it is practically impossible to set up a plant of such a size. It would have been reasonably fair if the State government had invited private companies to take up the project. Even if a private player was roped in, it would essentially have meant that it was a drama of deception before the elections.
On the other side, a similar drama was projected by Chandrababu about the Visakhapatnam metro rail. It was said that the State government would take up the metro rail project worth Rs 8,000 crore. If the AP government already has the resources to fund these projects, why were the TDP leaders blaming it on the Centre?
While it still is unknown as to when the Hyderabad metro rail, which is accessible to one crore population, would exceed its losses after spending Rs 16,000 crore, Chandrababu proposed to spend Rs 8,000 crore for hardly 20 lakh population in Visakhapatnam. When will the metro rail project be completed? What are the immediate challenges for the project? These questions should be addressed before taking it up any further.
It appears that the TDP government is of the opinion that the people would believe in its false claims just six months before the elections. We should hope that they wouldn't believe them.