Hyderabad: Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has fondly regarded his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy as his “adopted son” after he shared common ground with the latter on many issues after the elections in 2019.
As the saying, enemy’s enemy is a friend, goes TDP’s former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu brought both of them together to pursue their common goal—defeating the common enemy i.e. Naidu—in the elections.
KCR or Chandrasekhar Rao and Jagan Reddy averred to resolve inter-state disputes between the siblings on friendly terms. The two leaders have even unveiled their ambitious plan of linking the Godavari and the Krishna rivers as a joint venture. In tandem with the commitment, Jagan displayed his bonhomie with KCR by personally attending the inaugural function of the contentious Kaleswaram Project immediately after swearing-in. Reddy also handed over the buildings of his bifurcated state located in Hyderabad to Telangana. As a quid pro quo gesture, Chandrasekhar Rao, while facing a frontal attack from the opposition on his home turf, reportedly maintained stoic silence over the attempts of the Jagan government to build Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation scheme on the Krishna River allegedly by hurting the irrigation interests of Telangana. KCR is understood to have made friends with his Andhra counterpart hoping to make Jaganmohan Reddy a part of his Federal Front which he floated before 2019 elections hoping to replace NDA’s Narendra Modi as Prime Minister.
Legacy and compulsions
But Jaganmohan Reddy seems, of late, charting his own course leaving the TRS patriarch in the lurch when the latter is crossing swords with the NDA government at the Centre over reforms in energy sector and payment of GST compensation due to states. The government of Andhra Pradesh issued a GO on Tuesday endorsing electricity reforms proposed by the Narendra Modi government in contrast with the KCR’s hawkish stand. The opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh accused Jagan Reddy of abdicating the legacy of his father late Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy by compromising on the latter’s tirade against power reforms during the regime of TDP headed by N. Chandrababu Naidu during 1999-2004. The power reforms during the Naidu government, marked by increase of power tariff and audit of power consumption in agriculture sector by way of installing smart meters to pump sets, led to police firing at Basheer Bagh in Hyderabad, killing two people and wounding several protesters. Coincidentally, the Andhra Pradesh government issued a GO proposing to install meters to pump sets as part of NDA government’s proposal for power reforms on the death anniversary of Rajasekhar Reddy, creating fears over the fate of free power for agriculture. Thus, Jagan lends credence to the public perception as a proxy ally of Narendra Modi.
Jagan conspicuously remains docile on another contentious issue —payment of GST (Goods and Services Tax) compensation due to be paid to states by the Centre. On the contrary, KCR has got his nephew and Finance Minister T. Harish Rao to mobilise opinion from five opposition ruled states through a virtual interface with the Finance Ministers of that states a couple of days ago as an initial step towards building a common platform with the like-minded opposition parties on a slew of measures of the Narendra Modi government that hurt the federal spirit of the country.
KCR’s tough postures
The NDA government is obligated to make up the losses suffered by states on account of the GST by way of compensation amounting to Rs 3 lakh crore. But the Centre pruned it down to Rs 1.63crore, delivering what KCR has said a raw deal to the states.
Reform in the electricity is one of the conditions slapped on the states by the Centre for raising borrowings in relaxation of the limit of fiscal deficit under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act up to 3.5 percent. When KCR rejected the conditions saying his government will tap the credit sources on its own, Jaganmohan Reddy apparently is left with no option but to meekly accept them. Reddy government is constrained to overcome his state’s hand-to-mouth financial situation. Like every state, Covid-19 has battered the AP’s finances severely.