The spectacular rise of Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy and the fall of Nara Chandrababu Naidu. There was nothing bigger than this, in the year-2019, in the new Andhra Pradesh's five-year-old history.
The spectacular rise of Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy and the fall of Nara Chandrababu Naidu. There was nothing bigger than this, in the year-2019, in the new Andhra Pradesh’s five-year-old history. It was a tumultuous year for the state in many ways, beginning with the electoral battle, followed by the installation of a new regime, the controversial policy decisions that ensued, causing widespread disruption across sectors.
The ruling YSRCP’s idea to have “three capitals” stirred up a hornets nest toward the year end, with farmers going up in arms against the proposal.
The state’s financial bankruptcy added to the government’s woes. Andhra Pradesh witnessed a major tragedy when a boat carrying 77 tourists capsised in swollen Godavari river on September 15, killing 51 of its occupants. It took more than a month to pull out the boat which had remained stuck at a depth of at least 200 feet. It was the election year and the first four months saw an intense, no-holds-barred, vitriolic political battle probably ever fought in the states history.
In the do-or-die battle, Chandrababu Naidu, touted as the grand old man of AP politics, and his TDP were left badly mauled at the hustings by a lesser experienced Jagan Reddy, who realised his dream of becoming chief minister after a nine-year political struggle. The YSR Congress registered a stupendous victory in the general elections, bagging a record 151 seats in the 175-member AP Assembly, besides winning 22 of 25 Lok Sabha seats.
The Telugu Desam that ruled the truncated state since it came into being in June 2014 after creation of Telangana, had to be content with a mere 23 seats in the assembly and just three in Lok Sabha. The 2019 election was such a bitter pill for the TDP supremo, an experienced campaigner of 40-year standing, that his son and heir-in-waiting Lokesh bit the dust in his maiden electoral foray.
In the run-up to the polls, the fledgling Jana Sena of actor Pawan Kalyan was considered a potential spoiler that could dent the chances of either of the two main rivals, but came a cropper after the party could manage just one seat in the assembly. Kalyan himself lost from the two seats he contested. For the two national parties, BJP and Congress, the AP elections were only a nightmare as they drew a blank.
Post government formation, Reddy started revising a number of initiatives, cancelling several projects and the agreements the previous government entered into with various private investors. Be it the renewable power purchase agreements or the irrigation project contracts or other major infrastructure projects, the cancellations seemed to cast affect the investment climate as no new project came in the last seven months.
Some of these, like cancellation of the crucial Polavaram multipurpose project contracts and the PPAs also did not go down well with the Centre even as it caused legal setbacks. Lenders, simultaneously, are also shying away as the state government surged way beyond its borrowing limits and the debt mounting to over Rs 2.6 lakh crore.
Claiming it “inherited empty coffers”, the YSRC government stalled all payments amounting to over Rs 40,000 crore. Those running the state administration know, and reveal only in private, that APs financial system has “collapsed”.
The state budget size of Rs 2.27 lakh crore for the 2019 -20 financial year notwithstanding, the government is finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet, desperately looking towards the Centre for grants every month. Undeterred, though, the government has been launching new schemes and distributing freebies to various sections. Despite supposed negative feedback from the ground level, Reddy has not backtracked, saying “I am only undoing all the wrongs of the previous regime and trying to save public money.”
The TDP has dubbed Jagan’s administration as “destructive and disruptive” and likened the Chief Minister to 14th century Moghul ruler Mohammad Bin Tughlak, in an apparent reference to him reversing several decisions. “His (Jagan’s) lack of experience, coupled with a lack of comprehension, is clearly showing. He came to power seeking one chance but he has pushed the state back by at least 10 years in no time,” TDP politburo member Yanamala Ramakrishnudu alleged.
The foundation that Chandrababu Naidu laid for overall growth of the state had now been destroyed by Jagan Reddy with his “whimsical policies,” he As 2019 neared its end, Jagan came up with the idea of having three capitals for the state, one each for the executive, judiciary and the legislature, across the three regions. The move even drew disapproval from Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, who hails from Andhra. He took the stand that the administration should remain centralised while development be decentralised.
The state government has made it clear that what all plans the previous chief minister drew to build the new capital city of Amaravati have been dumped outright. How the government will proceed further to convert the Chief Minister’s idea into reality depends largely on the outcome of the litigation against the move. All that only promises to make Year 2020 more eventful for AP.