Kommineni Srinivasa Rao

It is said that old habits die hard. If one were to look at Leader of Opposition, Chandrababu's style of functioning, this adage comes to mind. Chandrababu Naidu wants us to believe that he has the upper hand even after he has been badly defeated. He claims that the development of Amaravati took place at a rapid pace during his tenure. Further, Chandrababu wants people to believe that this so-called development got stalled after the YSRCP government came to power. He blames the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government for the World Bank pulling out of the Amaravati project. While it is true that the World Bank has withdrawn funding for the new capital to the extent of Rs. 2100 crores. Chandrababu and his favourite media megaphones have gone on an overdrive as if a great tragedy has taken place and as if development has come to a standstill. As if on cue, the pro-TDP outlets are screaming about the loss wrought on AP. The false propaganda further said that brand Amaravati suffered and as many as projects worth Rs. 40,000 crores were in a state of uncertainty.

A few facts demand our attention here. The Chandrababu government had sent proposals amounting to a lakh crore rupees to the Centre. Later, work was assigned after calling for tenders worth Rs. 40,000 crores. Where are the funds for the projects taken up by the TDP government? Who will fund them?

Chandrababu said that 33,000 acres had been acquired for the construction of the capital. The acquisition was done forcibly in some instances. The TDP government went so far as to set fire to crops and blame the YSRCP for it. The TDP government's approach was riddled with flaws. It acquired 33,000 acres of fertile private land belonging to farmers. To this it added government land and forest land. In this scenario, what would happen if the government borrows Rs.2,000 crores for projects worth Rs. 1,00,000 crores. When asked what they did with the Rs. 1500n crores given by the Centre, the TDP government stated that it had built temporary buildings with the amount. The Centre had faulted the state government at that time that utilization certificates had not been sent. As we were approaching elections, Chandrababu started to fuss about five towers of fifty storeys each. Finally, Chandrababu did not construct a single such building. Instead, he spent time publicizing about non-existent projects worth lakhs of crores. Ten projects taken up by the previous government did not move an inch. The Chandrababu government claimed that MLA quarters and those of officials had been completed to the of fifty per cent. The axis road was completed to some extent. Nothing else was completed. Even the place where PM Modi laid the foundation is found overgrown with weeds today. Chandrababu continued to call it the topmost capital in the world as also in the country. In the end, incomplete assembly and secretariat buildings were all that the TDP government could build. Both farmers who parted with their precious land and those who didn't, suffered at the hands of the Chandrababu government. It could not assign plots to those whose land had been acquired under pooling. Farmers who refused to give their land lived in dread of the police, revenue officials and others. The much-publicised world-class capital became a massive real estate venture for Chandrababu leading to a sense of revulsion in the masses towards the TDP's policies. In the wake of complaints from environmentalists and farmers' groups, among others, to the World Bank delegation which toured the Amaravati region, along with the Centre's suggestion to pull out of the project, led to the World Bank's withdrawal of funding to Chandrababu's pet project. The TDP however, indulges in the false propaganda that all this happened on account of the YSR Congress party. Its media handmaidens propagate this half-truth ad nauseam, but the World Bank officials revealed the truth. The YSRCP government needs to be wary of the TDP's malicious propaganda campaign. Amaravati was never a brand. It was a powerful graphics presentation without a brand or image. In the end, what was left was real estate business brand or image. Some people connected with the TDP indulged in insider trading. Some of them profited enormously from this. Those who fell for Chandrababu's propaganda on location of capital and bought land in Nuzvid suffered huge losses. People went to the extent of taking their own lives. People who bought land near Guntur also suffered similarly.

In fact, the challenge that YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is unique. It is to find ways of taking this huge project forward.

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