Kommineni Srinivasa Rao

In earlier times, Collectors' Conference was an important annual affair or would at best be held, twice a year. The objective was to basically to review policy-based decisions as well as the government programmes in different districts of the state. These Conferences were usually convened and conducted by Chief Secretary while the Chief Minister would make a formal visit to the conference and explain about the government's priorities and vision. But Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has changed the very way Collectors' Conferences are held. He has turned the Chief Secretary into a dummy, while many important officials have become stenographers, taking down the notes. Chandrababu has taken over such conferences and reviews government programmes in his own style.

The other Chief Ministers who ascended the seat after Chandrababu, including late Dr YS Rajashekara Reddy did not follow the TDP Chief style of functioning. They acted according to the laid down norms and conventions. After the state’s bifurcation, the CMs of both the states— Telangana and Andhra Pradesh hold Collectors' Conference, while Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao calls for the meeting for discuss about implementation of a specific scheme or with a certain agenda, Chandrababu calls for these meetings for trivial reasons.

What was the purpose and what did they achieve through the latest Collector's Conference? Nothing! Moreover, Chandrababu explained the reasons for TDP's exit from NDA and his plans to bring political change in the country as well as how the centre has not kept the promises made in AP Bifurcation Act. This puzzled the collectors and they were confused why the CM was telling them this. While he said that the Centre was not releasing any funds to the state, in the same breath he claims that the state has developed like none other in the country. These contradictory statements kept the collectors dumbfounded. What was the need for central funds when the state had achieved extraordinary development?

Collectors and other officials were spellbound by the statement of Chandrababu that they would build a world-class capital city in Amaravati. The AP CM has just one year in hand. After that, there is uncertainty of his continuation in the office because of late there has been huge opposition which has built up under TDP rule. How will he build a world class capital when everyone is against him?

It is no surprise that Chandrababu had converted the district collectors and SPs conference into a political event. At this juncture we should not forget that AP CM was talking to officials of different departments on daily basis either through teleconference or through video conference. It proves that the officials are listening to his discourse everyday. Techno-savvy Chandrababu claims he gets information from every nook and corner of the state and has it at his fingertips. Why then, have a Collectors' Conference? There should be some other reason. It could be to use government machinery for political gains.

Earlier, CMs were not easily accessible to collectors. They had to go through a protocol. Times have changed, leave alone a district collector, the CM speaks directly to revenue officer or even a Sub-Inspector of police. Thanks to Chandrababu's government, AP is way ahead in this respect. Unfortunately, few district collectors and SPs have become political agents for TDP, which is not a good sign. These officials, in order to impress the CM, come up with a report on a subject. In the report they mention that extraordinary growth that has been achieved by Chandrababu's government and misguide the general public.

It is said that when architect Norman Poster had visited Vijayawada, Chandrababu was not even aware of his visit. This reflects the efficiency level at which the officials were working in TDP government. Holding Collectors' Conference whenever there was no other engagement was nothing but sheer wastage of public money. A change in governance would come about when Chandrababu would learn to treat officers for what they are and not glorified clerks.