During the term of Chandrababu Naidu, a micro-survey was conducted. As a supervising officer, I visited several villages and asked people what was their biggest expectation from the government. The unanimous answer was — water and electricity. Both of these needs were not met as Naidu was busy creating Cyberabad, a mini Rayalaseema, in Hyderabad.
As the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, he was fully justified in facilitating the people of Rayalaseema, his voters, at Cyberabad, right from Balanagar till the end of the city. But did he help Telangana people settle down anywhere in Andhra or for that matter provided jobs for them in Visakhapatnam Steel Plant or TTD? No. Then how can he claim he developed Cyberabad for the people of Telangana? Did he stop migration of Telangana people to Dubai and mitigated their problems? Again no.
Even his claim that he developed Cyberabad’s IT industry isn’t true. End-of-Cold War, dotcom bust, need for cheap IT professionals, need for expanding markets for new computer technologies were the factors that forced the US to transfer technology to third world countries, including India. Simultaneously with Andhra Pradesh, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai and Gurgaon too developed as IT centres. Thank God, Naidu hasn’t staked claim for the development of these centres.
Despite spending state’s resources on gala invitation to Bill Gates, it was Microsoft that benefitted immensely through orders of lakhs of units of software and hardware from the state. Thanks to his infatuation with IT, Naidu frittered away huge funds in computerisation of areas that never needed it.
This infatuation blinded him to the needs of farmers and industry. During his rule, lakhs of small and medium industries were shut. The present agricultural distress — until TRS chief and now Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao started reversing it — had its genesis in the neo-conservative programmes of Naidu and his sell-out to structural adjustment programmes of the World Bank. He was also responsible for the decimation of profession of artisans, which sustained people of many backward castes.
It is during Naidu’s period that electricity charges, municipal taxes increased 6-7 times. There was no addition of generation capacity. He introduced user charges in government hospitals even for police bandobast as if taxes were not enough. He was the only Chief Minister who did not sanction four consecutive DAs for government employees.
Chandrashekhar Rao is fully aware of Naidu’s chicanery, and therefore he spurned his offer to join hands with the TRS. Then Naidu joined hands with the Congress, which is in a quandary with very low esteem at the national level and little unity in its local ranks.
Many Congress leaders kowtowed before Andhra leaders and were responsible for the backwardness of Telangana. To hobnob with Naidu is not only self-defeating but amounts to subordinating Telangana’s pride to Andhra Pradesh for power.
It must be noted that neither Naidu nor the Congress under YSR could address the genuine needs of water and electricity of the largest chunk of electorate — namely farmers. After Telangana was formed, Chandrashekhar Rao scraped through the first election in the State. This shows that sentiment or no sentiment, people always give priority to their own urgent needs in voting.
Rao understood that if he has to sustain his party, he must address the most persistent problems of the people such as water and erratic electricity supply. He successfully solved the electricity problem and prepared a detailed plan of action for water problem through major, minor and micro irrigation projects for which he received accolades from authoritative agencies and past masters in the field. Even Kodandaram appreciated the Mission Kakatiya project.
Though delayed, these projects are likely to bring in definite results. Rao understood that the marginalised people left out of development by the earlier governments needed urgent attention. He launched populist measures like direct benefits to widows, beedi workers, textile workers, handicapped people, and to the poor among the backward castes and minorities.
These policies are exhaustive, all-inclusive and need huge funds. They also help the needy in the short-term until better and long lasting results come from the long-term projects.
He also catered to the needs of Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Rangareddy districts by introducing measures such as novel sanitation, rationalising real estate registrations, speeding up metro rail to ease traffic jams, starting Rs 5 meals for poor and cleaning and beautification of ponds and lakes. Communal harmony has reigned the social milieu.
No government can solve all the problems in one term. Even Modi, despite his grandstanding as panacea-man, is seeking the help of Lord Rama as his over-advertised programmes could not even touch the fringe of the problems he promised to solve.
Comparatively, Rao has at least solved the electricity problem of Telangana in totality. Now that the electricity problem is solved, it is hoped that water will be made available like in Mid-Manair (one has to see it to believe that despite low rainfall there is a vast expanse of water where there was not even a drop before Telangana came into being). Of course, there are still problems such as unemployment, food adulteration, pollution and agricultural distress, which need some more time for resolution.
Rao recently hinted at a public meeting that a policy is being framed to address the problems of farmers in an integrated manner by making villages self-sustaining and eco-friendly with the help of organic farming, either individually or in clusters. There will also be initiatives towards non-conventional local energy generation and modern storage facilities for produce and advanced marketing techniques.
Realising this vision of Rao requires at least another term as he has already done the planning and spadework.
(The author was HoD, Technical Education Department, Rajanna Sircilla)