Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Dear KCR, Forget Personality Cult, Focus On 'Telangana'!

K Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR), the super chief minister of Telangana state could blame it on legacy issues and he could be forgiven at this point since one year is too less to judge the progress of a state. But as the politician who led Telangana to separate statehood, he is surely in happy space today. His exuberance was visible on the maiden Telangana Formation Day.

Search engine behemoth Google will have its biggest campus outside Googleplex in California,  in Hyderabad, Telangana at an initial investment of about Rs 1,000 crore. Exactly a year after the formation of Telangana, the 29th State of India, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government can flaunt this as one of its biggest achievements.

While the government headed by KCR has been able to make a positive pitch for the state among the global deep pockets, attracting promises of investment, the rest of the story remains bleak. 

Asserting that his government balanced development and welfare, KCR listed out the schemes he envisioned and envisaged for the state. Taking a pot shot at his critics, who had predicted a bleak ‘financial and electrical’ situation in the state, KCR announced recruitment to 25,000 government jobs, and construction of 50,000 two-BHK apartments for the weaker section at Rs 5.04 lakh per unit.

Embarking on ‘Mission Kakatiya’ for desilting the 46,300 tanks at an estimated outlay of Rs 22,000 crore; ensuring power cut-free sweltering summer; enhancing pay of government employees by 43 percent; allocation of Rs 28,000 crore on multiple welfare schemes in the budget; taking up construction of three ultra-mega power projects and major irrigation projects found place in his anniversary address. His is a government both strong on intent and execution, comment political observers.

But the rest of the narrative appears underwhelming. Close to 1,000 farmers have committed suicide in the last one year and the agricultural community remains a distressed lot. The farm loan waiver, which is being implemented in a phased manner, hasn’t provided the much-anticipated relief to them. Though Panchayat Raj and IT Minister KT Rama Rao was candid in admitting that suicide of even one farmer was extremely painful, he tried to defend the government in a television interview saying that “this sad situation is a result of misgovernance over the years.”

By eyeing the large lung spaces on the campuses of universities for the proposed housing for the weaker section, KCR has rubbed the student community on the wrong side. His remarks against the students smacked of arrogance and ignited tempers against him in his erstwhile political bastion – Osmania University, the hotbed of Telangana agitation.

The Maoist sympathisers have turned against him as he has proved no different from other chief ministers of the undivided Andhra Pradesh. In the initial days he drew public anger by talking about nativity of people, targeting those who migrated from Andhra and settled down in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana; fee reimbursement to students in professional colleges among others.

KCR’s craving for growing into a cult personality, which is common to any mass-influencer in politics, is no different from others. By creating three power centres – all from within the family, the TRS supremo has strengthened his control over the party and the government. His nephew and Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao, son and IT Minister K Taraka Rama Rao, and daughter and Nizamabad MP Kavitha are the three axes around which a section of the party revolve, the planets revolve around the nucleus – the chief minister.

Though KCR has two deputy chief ministers in his Cabinet, they aren’t even the “notional second among equals”. Everything is CM-centric. His initial repulsion towards the Narendra Modi regime at the Centre has gradually transformed into an undefined affinity. That said, he isn’t overtly pally with the BJP. For now, the relation is limited only to G2G (government to government) or KCR to Modi and not TRS to BJP.

In KCR’s larger scheme of things, cordiality with All-India Majlis-e-Ittehaadul Muslimeen is important for the prospective elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. At the same time, he doesn’t want to miss the “big picture”.

Conquering power with a wafer-thin majority of 63 MLA seats in a 119-member assembly, KCR clandestinely organised “horse-trading” by betting on the wining horses in the Congress, the TDP, the YSR Congress and even the tiny Bahujan Samaj Party, and lured 15 MLAs into the TRS stable.

One year gone. Now the clock begins to tick. It’s performance time for him; he cannot blame the past for ever.

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