HYDERABAD: Competition between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments, it appears, is intensifying with every passing day. It comes as no surprise that the governments in both the states have been on a spending spree. The TRS government, headed by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, in Telangana has been announcing new schemes and sops on a regular basis, the latest being a Ramzan gift pack for Muslims. However, he has the luxury of a fat wallet. On the other hand, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, despite empty coffers, has tried to match KCR’s stride. He announced a 42 per cent salary hike for government employees just a day before the Telangana chief minister did pretty much the same.
To shore up the finances, besides frequently flying to Delhi and trying to exert pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union ministers for alloting more funds to the state, Naidu is touring foreign countries to attract investments. KCR is also not lagging behind and is trying to woo investors too. He is using Hyderabad’s brand image to persuade companies to invest in the state—the recent decision of Celkon and Micromax to have assembling units in Telangana is a case in point.
For Naidu, though, it may take time to create a brand image for the new capital city Amaravati. It is not just a case of competition—it is true that Naidu, who boasts of developing Hyderabad wants to create another such city in Andhra Pradesh—but building world-class infrastructures in the state and an ultra-modern capital before the next assembly polls has become a must for his political survival. Moreover, failure to keep his poll promises and build a capital would destroy his image of a ‘CEO’ even in Andhra.
Just last week, Naidu flew to Japan on a three-day visit to entice Japanese investors—he even sought to establish a ‘Buddhist link’, citing the Buddhist heritage of both Andhra and Japan, which interestingly seems to be working. The Japanese have responded positively to partner with the Andhra Pradesh government in realising Naidu’s dream of a gigantic capital city that serves both as a ‘seat of power’ as well as an economic powerhouse. State Minister of Trade and Industry of Japan (METI) Yosuke Takagi told the Chief Minister, “We want to involve ourselves in the development of the capital city from the initial stage itself.” Recalling that Japan had been working on developing ports, airports, roads, housing and other infrastructure needs of the state since January last, he said, “We are prepared to offer full cooperation for capital city. We have begun identifying companies that are suitable to build a world-class capital for Andhra Pradesh.” Japanese Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) Akihiro Ohta said, “Since you have a long coastline on the East, you are logistically close to Japan. And, since you have Buddhist sites, Andhra Pradesh is very attractive to us.”
Naidu later said that several Japanese companies were ready to be partners in the capital construction of the state. An elated Naidu invited Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the foundation-laying ceremony of Amaravati on October 22.
Naidu had earlier visited Japan in November last year and soon after his return, announced a separate cell in the industries department to deal exclusively with Japanese firms and grant them clearances at the earliest. He is even recruiting executives conversant in Japanese.
Singapore too is on his radar. Naidu has also roped in Singapore for the capital construction. In fact, Singapore is preparing the master plan for the new capital for free. No wonder, he has decided to invite Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong too for Amaravati’s foundation ceremony.
Joys from Japan
■ Naidu invites Mizuho Bank to set up headquarters in Amaravati. MoU inked to facilitate investments from Japanese companies
■ SoftBank to set up 20 GW solar power plant in AP
■ AP signs MoU with National Electronics Corporation (NEC) of Japan for ‘Safe-city project’, to be operated from Tirupati
■ Naidu invites Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ to Amaravati
■ MoU with Japan’s ministry of economy, trade and industry (METI) for promotion of direct investment by Japanese companies
■ Sumitomo Corporation signed four MoUs including one to develop a 4,000 MW thermal power station.