Kommineni Srinivasa Rao
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has vowed to stamp out corruption in Andhra Pradesh as seen from his resolve to probe energy deals of the TDP government, as also a comprehensive probe covering 30 important issues. These are indeed revolutionary decisions which require tremendous courage. It is also clear that these steps are a part of his agenda to reform organisations and departments in the governmant as also their interface with people. It is definitely not an attempt to rake up corruption of the TDP with deliberate intent.
At the same time, YS Jagan has kept in sharp focus his commitment to the weaker sections of society by implementing Navarathnalu in its entirety. It is only after he initiated a comprehensive implementation programme related to Navarathnalu that the chief minister turned his attention towards corruption of the previous regime.
The day he assumed office, the AP chief minister had announced that he would provide transparent governance and rid the state of the scourge of corruption. Thereafter in every subsequent meeting and public address he has underscored this point. In official reviews, YS Jagan has emphasised the need to root out corruption. At the collector's conference, YS Jagan told collectors and SPs that while they should due respect to MLAs, they should not yield to irregular or unlawful requests. One cannot say about national leaders, but in the history of Andhra Pradesh, no chief minister has ever spoken on this matter with such clarity.
Some of us who have been observing the style of functioning of chief ministers over four decades can attest to this. YS Jagan did not stop with that. He took yet another bold and revolutionary step by ordering the demolition of Praja Vedika, an illegally constructed conference hall next to the house of former chief minister and current leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu in Undavalli.
His decision has sent a shiver down the collective spine of many biggies who built massive bungalows in violation of rules and regulations. The TDP chief finds himself in a rather piquant situation. If he were to vacate his house, it would amount to admitting that the construction was an irregular and an illegal one. If he continues to stay in his house, Chandrababu would attract criticism of clinging on to an illegal construction.
On wednesday, YS Jagan had announced his decision to order an inquiry into power purchase agreements of the TDP government which caused a loss of Rs 2636 crores to the state exchequer. Moreover, he stated that this was the official estimate. The chief minister said that nobody should be spared on this count and that responsibility should be fixed and the amount recovered. The minister concerned as also the chief minister should face legal action. This is worrisome news for Chandrababu and the TDP because it is widely believed that the TDP government had purchased power from solar and wind energy firms at higher rates. Current industries and IT Minister Mekapati Gowtham Reddy had flagged this issue in the state Assembly in the previous term. As far back as 2016, he pointed out that corruption to the extent of Rs 400 crores had taken place in the purchase of power. When he raised his voice in the Assembly, Chandrababu looked the other way.
In fact, the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh should have had surplus power, but without referring to this, Chandrababu Naidu attributed the absence of power cuts to his competence. It would be interesting to see how he would respond to charges of corruption in this matter. However, TDP might cry foul alleging political vendetta in their usual manner. They might even say that the Centre had warned against power agreements being overturned because it would have a negative impact on investments.
Did the Centre ask the state government to spend thousands of crores, loot resources and buy power from private firms? YS Jagan has clearly indicated that the private players would be called and asked to reduce the power tariff and that agreements would be scrapped only if they failed to fall in line. The constant refrain one heard from Chandrababu and his men was that the state was reeling under a heavy debt and revenue deficit. To indulge in such humongous corruption under those circumstances would be an unpardonable crime. The YSRCP government has taken upon itself the task of getting to the bottom of these corrupt deals of Chandrababu Naidu and his party leaders during the TDP regime.