The New Order
- Praja Vedika home of Naiidu demolished.
- Notices issued to Naidu to vacate home built ‘illegally’ on Krishna riverbed
- All power purchase agreements of TDP tenure scrapped
- Amaravati project work stalled
- Polavaram project suspended
- Consent to CBI to probe cases that the TDP government had stalled
- 108 emergency services renamed from NTR Vaidya Seva to YSR Arogya Sri and Anna canteens to Rajanna canteens
They are the worst of foes, sparing not a single opportunity to snap at each other. The verbal volleys have been outright venomous, like when Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy said before a crowd in 2017 that his opponent, N. Chandrababu Naidu, “should be shot in public for his double-speak and unending corruption”. Naidu, then chief minister, was equally vicious when he called Jagan a ganja plant in a tulsi garden, comparing him with luminaries that the YSRCP chief’s home turf Kadapa had produced.
Since Jagan became chief minister, decimating Naidu’s TDP in this year’s elections, he appears to be stealing a recurring scene from the Indian political backcloth—one that flashes the V for Vendetta prominently. Going by the political drift of undoing the past, especially legacies associated with the predecessor, the Andhra Pradesh chief minister is following a predictable line—starting with a bulldozer licking Naidu’s riverfront house, Praja Vedika, which apparently was built illegally. For reasons best known to him, Jagan held out the threat to take the wrecking ball to Naidu’s official home, built just a shout away from Praja Vedika, although notices have been sent to the occupant to vacate the property.
Also, Jagan is reviewing all policies, plans, projects and schemes of Naidu’s government. Instructions are out to halt projects, now at different stages of completion, such as the Amaravati capital city—running into crores of rupees. The CM, who has accused Naidu of wide-scale corruption and nepotism, says these projects will be cleared only after thorough review and scrutiny. He wants fresh tenders for several projects to bring down costs and to expose the alleged corruption of the TDP.
For a state reeling from drought-like conditions over the past decade, Jagan didn’t spare the Polavaram irrigation project across the Godavari, putting it on hold till this November by which time corruption charges against the TDP administration will be looked into. He had instructed irrigation officials to complete the project within two years. Besides, he has initiated steps to recover from the Centre Rs 5,000 crore that the TDP government had spent on the project.
Another contentious decision was Jagan’s cancellation of power purchase agreements signed by the Naidu administration. Why? A probe found that an excess of Rs 2,686 crore was paid because of the so-called inequitable wind and solar energy agreements. And Jagan, who came to power riding a populist agenda, has held that Andhra’s power tariff is higher than most states because of Naidu’s alleged corrupt practices during his tenure. However, Union minister R.K. Singh has advised Jagan not to cancel the agreements and dropped a caveat that “if the contracts are not honoured, the investments stop coming”.
Jagan has also rebranded Naidu’s schemes to suit his political interests—such as renaming the popular Anna canteens to Rajanna canteens, sort of soup kitchens where the poor could buy a meal for a paltry Rs 5, cooked and served in clean and hygienic kitchens and dining halls across the state. The Anna canteens were suspended temporally, apparently to check corruption allegations, until they are re-launched with the new name and a reduced price tag—Rs 4 a meal.
Senior TDP leader Gorantla Butchaiah Choudhary terms the YSRCP government’s decisions as destructive. “What he, or his government, is going to achieve by renaming schemes?” he asks. “Are people fools to forget who initiated the schemes?” He, though, appreciated the new government’s enhanced old-age pension of Rs 2,250 a month, with the promise to increase it to Rs 3,000 gradually. The scheme is named after his late father and former chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.
The TDP’s main objection is against the stalling of all activities in Amaravati. “I personally term the decision as the most destructive and vindictive,” Choudhary says. The BJP local leadership, including Sujana Chowdary, who recently defected from the Congress, has trained its guns against Jagan. Wastage of taxpayer’s money is what the BJP called Jagan’s Rs 25-lakh security expenditure for his thanksgiving visit to Jerusalem with his family.
By M.S. Shanker in Hyderabad