It is still early days for the KCR-led government in the newly carved-out Telangana state, but one has to admit it has found its feet. Trashed by Congress leaders in the election campaign as agitators who lack administrative skills, KCR and his team have succeeded in conveying the message that they are no novices when it comes to running the government.
For a party brought to power by people who were sold varied dreams, the task is truly gigantic, and like Narendra Modi at the national level, KCR too does not enjoy the luxury of a honeymoon and he is as conscious of that as anyone else.
Officials are emerging out of review meetings with a clear perception that the chief minister means business and cannot be fooled. If at all, he is more knowledgeable than the officials themselves. The image makeover was something that KCR, who always took the pounding in the decade that he spent as an agitator, badly needed. The fact that he is also not faced with a virulent opposition, the Congress having taken a beating, is also helping the cause of KCR towards whom the few left-over Congress folks continue to flock.
Even at the risk of being faulted by KCR’s critics, I must say the thought-process thus far has been refreshing.
Significant among the various initiatives is the proposal to consider each district as a unit for the purpose of development, which makes sure that growth is evenly spread instead of in a few cities. The government also got down to the task of identifying SC families for distribution of three acres of land to each, as promised at the time of elections. Aware of the fact that protecting Brand Hyderabad is pivotal to sustaining and improving revenues, KCR’s son and IT Minister, KT Rama Rao, is losing no opportunity to send the right signals to existing and prospective business entities. Overall, a good show that needs to be continued in the months and years to come.
On the other side of the divide, Chandrababu Naidu, far more seasoned as an administrator, is confronted with bigger problems. Apart from the sibling rivalry he and KCR are engaged in on issues of sharing power and water, what is turning out to be a noose around Naidu’s neck is his promise of loan-waiver. With YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, sitting in the Assembly with a large group of legislators waiting to sharpen the attack, it is a tough time. At a time when the residuary Andhra Pradesh is already facing a resource crunch, meeting the burden of loan-waiver—estimated anywhere between `55,000 and `75,000 crore—is surely a difficult proposition. The only way forward for Naidu, as many experts point out, is to come clean before the people, explain the problems and impose some limit for waiver (KCR set a limit of `1 lakh) instead of attempting to implement the open-ended promise he made at the time of elections.
Andhra Pradesh has several other issues to be addressed—beginning with building a new capital, establishing premier educational institutions and attracting big industries to create employment opportunities. Sooner than later, Naidu should bail himself out of loan-waiver so that he can fully focus on development.