Jagan: A ‘Please All’ Chief Minister In A Hurry
Normally, most of the grand promises made during election campaigns remain unfulfilled in India. This led to the demand that political parties must be made accountable for unfulfilled electoral promises.
But Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagamohan Reddy appears to have chosen a different path. He has embarked on a mission to ‘please-all’ by giving priority to implementing the promises he made during the election campaign and his padayatra.
One could see a clear attempt by Jagan to consolidate his position from day one by according top priority to implementing the poll manifesto. The reason could be that it would enable him to earn popular support for his future tougher decisions. The seven months of 2019 since Jagan was elected to power, was a period of aggressive implementation of all poll promises.
The decisions and the schemes he implemented between June and December 2019 are carefully fine-tuned keeping in mind the diverse demands of the people. All the schemes fall into three important categories, caste/religious groups, individual beneficiaries from all castes, and the regions. No section is left untouched.
This strategy left little room for dissensions among people as evident in the “Save Amaravati” agitation launched by farmers and rival TDP (Telugu Desam Party) in the capital region.
When Jagan announced the possibility of three capitals for the state, to be distributed among the three geographical regions, the state did not plunge into turmoil.
Rayalaseema, by and large, has silently endorsed it, though some senior leaders demanded the location of the executive capital in the region.
For the people of north coastal Andhra, the location of the executive capital at Vizag was like hitting a jackpot. Jagan knew very well that scrapping of Amaravati was not possible without the acquiescence from the backward regions of Rayalaseema and North Andhra.
Had he proposed another greenfield capital to scrap Amaravati, the state would have been thrown into political upheaval. It would have also been dubbed as a real estate scam by YSRC (YSR Congress) leaders.
Jagan did not choose this thorny alternative. He sought to demolish Naidu’s theory of centrality of the location to build capital Amaravati, with the equally strong argument of decentralisation to split it.
‘Three capitals in three regions’ proposal has made TDP, a well-knit political organisation, bereft of support, even from its own ranks outside Amaravati. So, no TDP leader worth his salt from Rayalaseema has voiced opposition to the splitting of the capital and opposed elevation of Kurnool as judicial capital of the state.
Same is the case with North Andhra. Reports say the talk of an executive capital at Vizag pushed the land prices sky high, despite stagnation in other parts of the state. There is no clarity on how Jagan would take capital decentralisation to its logical end; the silencing of the two potentially troublesome regions is his major achievement.
Jagan formulated schemes that would benefit every section of the society, age-group wise, gender-wise, caste wise, region wise and occupation wise.
At the time of writing this piece, the government is busy giving finishing touches to ‘0’ (zero) interest on loans of women’s self-help groups proposal, an important promise he made during his Praja Sankalpa Yatra.
And instructions have also been issued to joint Collectors of all districts to make arrangements for the state-wide distribution of house-site pattas to the poor next Ugadi (Telugu New Year).
Last week Jagan launched a scheme called YSR Nethanna Nestham meant for weavers, one of the most neglected sections in the state. The scheme envisages transfer of Rs 24,000 per family of a working weaver.
Undeterred by the precarious state finances, chief minister Jagan is going full throttle in implementing the Navaratnalu, the collective name of his nine pet schemes.
Minutes after taking oath as chief minister in May 2019, Jagan declared, “Within six months to one year, I will prove that Jagan is a good chief minister.”
It is politically incumbent upon a chief minister who attends CBI court every Friday in disproportionate assets cases, to earn the goodwill from the people. Jagan is a man in a hurry.
Some of the important schemes he is implementing are rice card, YSR pensions, YSR Arogyasri card, YSR Sunna Vaddi, Jagananna Ammavodi, YSR Kapu Nestham, Jagannana Vidya Deevena, honorarium for Imams, Muazams, Pastors and salary hike to Archakas, financial assistance to Rajakas, Nayee Brahmins, tailors, YSR Nethanna Neshtham, 4.5 lakh jobs in rural areas, establishment of Gram Sachivalayan and many others.
The seeds for the please-all approach of Jaganmohan Reddy’s government were sown during the course of his Praja Sankalpa Yatra last year. The padayatra, which commenced from Idupulapaya near his hometown Pulivendula in Kadapa district, covered 3648 km in 341 days.
He traveled at the rate of 15 km to 30 km a day shaking hands of thousands of people. He addressed as many as 100 public meetings and every speech was full of Navaratnalu and other promises.
Prohibition in a phased manner is another area Jagan is successful in. The government claims that liquor sales have come down in the state by 25%.
Caste & Vindictive Politics
While social welfare measures earned kudos for him, some of his actions like the attempt to cancel PPAs in the power sector, cancellation of sand mining licenses and scrapping of Amaravati, alleged artificial flooding of the river Krishna near Vijayawada, demolition of Prajavedika made him unpopular among some regions and sections of people.
Jagan could not escape being branded as Reddy casteist and being vindictive. While Naidu’s government was all about the Kamma caste, Jagan administration’s hallmark is Reddy.
Many see the fatal combination of Reddy casteism and visible anti-Kamma attitude at the root of his actions like cancellation of sand mining licenses without putting a new one in place.
TDP, the Left parties, Jana Sena and the BJP have been successful in highlighting the vindictive angle in the cancellation of sand mining licenses. The delay in announcing a new sand policy and subsequent floods played havoc with the lives of construction workers. The financial crisis thrown up by joblessness drove scores of workers to commit suicides. Similarly, Jagan was blamed for the artificial flooding of Naidu’s residence allegedly constructed illegally on flood plains.
Looming Financial Crisis
2020 is going to be a crucial year for Jagan as budget allocations for all his schemes will prove to be a daunting task.
A dip in the devolution of central funds, falling revenues, the negative impact of economic slowdown and additional expenditure for the three-capital projects are bound to force him to rationalise the schemes to lessen the burden.
Given the bad blood between Jagan and the BJP, liberal funding is unlikely from New Delhi. Jagan may find himself in a tight spot if the TDP, BJP, and Jana Sena were to join hands on the pretext of saving Amravati.