Kommineni Srinivasarao

A statement made by Telangana's IT minister KTR, came as a big surprise. KTR attributed growth in the IT sector in Hyderabad entirely to Chandrababu Naidu and said that no significant progress had been achieved after him. This is a rather far-fetched statement.

Whether KTR really meant what he said is a matter of conjecture. It is true that during Chandrababu Naidu's era, the Cyber Towers building at the Hi-tech Crossroads in Hyderabad, did come up. Prime Minister Vajpayee had then inaugurated it. But Hyderabad was not really a big player when came to the IT sector, back then.

The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee inaugurating the Cyber Towers, in 1998.
The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee inaugurating the Cyber Towers, in 1998.

During Nedurumalli Janardhan Reddy's reign as CM of undivided Andhra Pradesh, software technology park was housed in a building in Ameerpet. In fact, it was during N. Janardhan Reddy's time that the foundation stone for the Madhapur building was laid, though he drew no mileage from it, in terms of publicity. He was succeeded by Kotla Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy, who was there for two years. This period was followed by NTR's eight-month rule. As it turned out, NTR was dislodged by his son-in-law, Chandrababu Naidu, but even he did not turn his attention to IT for about four to five years. Bengaluru had already become a hub for the IT industry and it was during this period that people eyed Hyderabad as a likely location for IT. The Cyber Towers building was constructed around this time.

Chandrababu Naidu lost the next round of elections. Hyderabad even at the time that his party was trounced at the hustings, hadn't yet become a top location for IT industries, barring a few MNCs. Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy's government took the initiative to give a fillip to the IT sector and created the Financial District. Dr. YSR's government provided the necessary infrastructure for the IT sector to grow by laying roads and expanding the base right up to the Gachibowli area in the state capital.

BP Acharya, a senior official in the Telangana government today, used to oversee the entire work related to this, back then. His contribution to the sector and region is such that a road has been named after him. Moreover, after Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy's tragic demise, the Industries department building in Financial District in this area, was named after him. Similarly, a host of buildings along the Raidurg road were named after him. When he was Leader of Opposition in the AP Assembly, Chandrababu Naidu used to brag about his contribution to the city and the IT sector. He would claim in the state assembly that it was he who was singularly responsible for the development of the IT sector in Hyderabad. MLAs and ministers from the ruling Congress used to rebut his tall claims with facts and figures.

It is a bit surprising that KTR seems to be unaware of the fact that software exports and revenue rose in Dr. YSR's period to thousands of crores of rupees compared to some hundreds of crores during Chandrababu's time. Apart from lending a major thrust to the IT sector, Outer Ring Road (ORR), RGIA, PV Narasimha Rao Expressway bear testimony to Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy's lasting contribution and it is rather strange that KTR should be completely unaware of this.

It is equally important to note that both Rosaiah and Kiran Kumar Reddy took care to see that the IT sector remained unaffected by the Telangana agitation. It is not as though Chandrababu did not do anything for IT. However, if KTR suggests that Chandrababu Naidu alone was the driving force behind the growth of the IT sector in Hyderabad, one can only ascribe this to some other intention, which could be political, as well. Even if he says something like this now, KTR might contradict himself at a later point. For instance, KTR and KCR have admitted in the past that Telangana became possible only because of Sonia Gandhi. In fact KCR, accompanied by members of his family, went to Delhi to thank Sonia Gandhi. Later, KTR did not hesitate to claim that it was neither the Congress party nor Sonia who were responsible for Telangana, but that the statehood was achieved through struggle and agitation by the TRS.

KTR therefore, changes his tone and content depending on the situation. But it would be prudent for a person who is growing in political stature to rise above all suspicions of leaning towards a party or section of society. It would have been in the fitness of things if KTR had also dwelt on the growth of the IT sector during Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy's tenure, mainly because Chandrababu was not in power in the undivided state after 2003. If KTR wants to imply that no progress was achieved in these 14 years, that is a different matter altogether. Does KTR mean to say that no one had contributed to the IT industry in the interim? Not even during the last three and a half years of TRS rule? The institution of a Government is a continuous one and the role of a chief minister, therefore very critical. No one objects to some credit being given to Chandrababu Naidu, but to forget the contribution of Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy is patently wrong and has to be faulted.