Kommineni Srinivasa Rao
It appears that Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu is overpowered by fear after findings of recent surveys were announced. According to the latest Times Now Survey, the YSR Congress party is set to sweep AP with 23 out of 25 seats, while the ruling TDP could end up with only 2 in its account.
The results of this survey seem to have triggered panic in Chandrababu Naidu. He is now making every effort to woo the people of AP over to the ruling party. Among the dramas enacted by him is taking up the distribution of pensions to the elderly himself, making it seem like a festive offering.
The TDP government, copying from YSR Congress party chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's Navaratnalu, has hiked the pension amount to Rs. 2,000 per month. Chandrababu Naidu is now conducting meetings in every constituency with great fanfare. Chandrababu and other TDP leaders drone on with long speeches at these meetings. There were reports that three people died at such meetings.
TDP leaders are now stooping to the level of trying to link voting in the elections to the pensions being given by the Chandrababu government. Senior leader Satrucherla Vijayaramaraju went so far as to curse those who would not for the ruling party in the state. What does such behaviour in public point to? Clearly Chandrababu and his party leaders are a scared lot.
Can Chandrababu Naidu answer this question--didn't YS Jagan during the course of his Padayatra, promise Rs.2,000 as pension after the YSRCP comes to power? Didn't Chandrababu and other TDP leaders criticize YS Jagan on this count? Why is Chandrababu now spending crores of rupees of public money on the pre-election stunt of disbursing pensions, especially after having copied the idea of raising them to Rs. 2,000 from the YSR Congress party chief?
Would Chandrababu have hiked the pension amount if YS Jagan had not made this commitment? Why will people vote for TDP when they are aware of the facts? They know that Chandrababu, out of pre-election desperation, copied the idea of enhancing the pension from YS Jagan's Navaratnalu. They also know that the YSRCP as promised, would not only continue the enhanced amount as pension, but will also hike it further after coming to power.
Chandrababu would not have landed himself in a spot if he had fulfilled his election promises. He made a mockery of democratic institutions by imposing Janmabhoomi committees and then imposing a condition that pensions should be channelized through them. Is it enough for Chandrababu Naidu to sit next to Rahul Gandhi and claim that he is a saviour of democracy?
Chandrababu broke down the farmers' loan of Rs.6,000 promised in Piyush Goyal's budget to Rs. 500 a month and described as too meagre, as alms given to the farmer. What about the Rs.1,000 the TDP government had been giving as pension till last month? That works out to Rs. 33 a day. Can anyone subsist on that? If someone were to turn around and question him whether he is giving out alms, what answer would Chandrababu have?
The yellow media while criticising Modi and commending every measure of Chandrababu's seems to forget that his pre-election sops including Rs.10,000 in post-dated cheques is itself a sudden courting exercise out of extreme desperation. Is it something great to talk about?
If YSR Congress party comes to power, it will not only continue the pension scheme, but has promised to strengthen it. Moreover, the state will be rid of Janmabhoomi committees, especially the elderly. The TDP forgets that it is with public money that welfare schemes are funded. If people are coerced into voting for the ruling party by attempting to dangle a pre-election carrot of some welfare scheme, the effort may boomerang. People know that politicians do not spend from their pocket. They must and will vote freely. That is the essence of democracy.