In India, politics has undergone a sea change since independence. But the politics that is happening in residual Andhra Pradesh beat every other State in its bizarre transformation. Earlier, in the united State, many things were submerged under the surface of a larger canvas of population and regional variation. But now after the demerger, hitherto subdued political colours have emerged strongly. Most important of them is the caste factor. It is a kind of loose vertical polarisation of it. And one crafty social group and its captive media have manipulated political power to create and run an oligarchy of government. It has just happened in a period of five years after bifurcation.
The oligarchy was part of the Central ruling alliance for the most part of this term and used that clout to do whatever it liked. Later, because of its avaricious politics, the alliance was broken. And there ensued a war of political attrition. At home too, the ruling party’s relationship with other political parties was not democratic. It has bought a large number of legislators from the main opposition to weaken it, without any apparent need. It did not allow the opposition to function in the Assembly and the Assembly was made redundant. Virtually, it has become a one-party rule presided over by its domineering chief minister. Several issues, which were to be diligently attended to in the new State as part of the Reorganisation Act are made controversial just for the self-centred political reasons of the chief minister.
No Lessons Learned
In an antithetical way, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) after its rift with the BJP tried to corner the Centre with its ‘save democracy’ campaign in collusion with the Congress, its arch-rival. As a trial of it, it tried to influence the outcome of Telangana elections. It did not get any traction in it and was drubbed. Yet, the party did not learn any lessons. It is still carrying on its undemocratic ways of micromanaging the politics of the State with the help of its captive media. Now, in the middle of the State election campaign, the disputes with the Centre and Telangana are made the main political agenda, leaving its much trumpeted world-class State development paradigm in the lurch.
The administration is dictated by the Chief Minister and son. Other than the party, all others are treated as opponents of the government. The obedient media, which is almost 80% of state media, does the requisite thought policing. The government sops go to only party supplicants. For others, it is a struggle to get anything. Apart from the general administration, the law and order is also micromanaged by the party high command. Police cases of some importance are to be probed as decided by the high command. The graft, diversion and misuse of funds appear to be commonplace. The entire Cabinet is just a group of this political business oligarchy. The State is turned into a virtual business company.
The world-class capital brouhaha has become muted. The capital construction is converted into a digital graphics bioscope. The Polavaram project is made into a slow motion dam-building workshop. Both of them are made places of free tourist pilgrimage. Construction of airports, sea ports etc, is into oblivion. The State’s economy has not improved in the last six years, despite handsome handouts of deficit grant and almost double the Central tax devolution and grants from the Centre compared with Telangana.
There is no conscious effort to bridge the revenue income and expenditure gap. The State still shows a revenue deficit in the vote-on-account Budget for 2019-20. Nothing has come to reality in the reconstruction of the State, as bellicosely claimed by the ruling party in the beginning. It has earned enmity with the Centre and has raised meaningless controversies with Telangana. It has defied the Centre and banned the CBI from entering into the State.
On all fronts, the present government has failed in guiding the new State and grounding the requisite reconstruction plans for it. Its claim of growth rates, actual progress on the ground and the demand for funds from the Centre do not synchronise. The interests of the party, its oligarchy and its sub-serving media have become more important. In fact, they have completely deviated from the objective of building the new State. The State has stagnated in the process. It is like the proverbial fly forgetting its name flustering the floor on a festival day.
In the light of all that is happening, this ‘save democracy and save Andhra Pradesh’ campaign by some Andhra intellectuals in different cities of Andhra Pradesh is a welcome move. The candour of the likes of Ajeya Kallam, IYRK Rao et al in exposing the undemocratic governance and its harmful nexus with the yellow media is like a silver lining on the dark clouds hovering over the State.
Actually, it should have started a bit earlier, as the contours of the working of this government were clearly discernible since a very long time. It is a forum where the state of the affairs of the State can be brought out clearly. And whetted by the informed members of the civil society for the benefit of the common man to make an informed choice in the coming elections. It is a real good effort to save democracy and to save Andhra Pradesh. The State certainly needs it to come out of the morass created by the present government.
(The author is a freelance journalist)