Jagan to complete 1 year in office; here is his report card

Gali Nagaraja

Amaravati: In the next few days YSR Congress president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy will complete one year in office as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. He was sworn in as the second CM of the residual state on May 30 after having swept the elections for the state Assembly and the Lok Sabha early in 2019.  

The Reddy’s one-year rule literally began with the demolition of a conference hall built during the period of his predecessor N. Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP with Rs 8.90crore on the riverbed of the Krishna hardly a day after his swearing-in. With this, he has unfolded his agenda in what could be seen as politics of vendetta, marked by erasing of the footprints of his political rivals in governance. He spent most part of his time with street battles aiming against Naidu that distracted his attention from the state’s over development.

Welfare eclipses development

Jagan’s welfare agenda, revolving around Navaratnas– meaning a basket of nine gem-like populist schemes– has been well-received by people but not without sending right signals to the state economy. Andhra Pradesh’s financial position became shaky with resource-rich Hyderabad, capital of the combined state, having gone to Telangana after state bifurcation in 2014.  The YSR Congress government by heavily tilting in favour of welfare schemes seems failing to strike a balance with development. Investor confidence went for a toss with the Jagan Reddy government reversing the fate of irrigation and infra projects and policy decisions taken during the TDP government such as re-tendering for the Polavaram Project, capital shifting, abolition of state Legislative Council and upward revision of power purchase agreements (PPAs) entered with independent power developers.

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The YSRC leader while in opposition generated sustained heat on the question of special category status, accusing his rival Naidu of having compromised with the NDA government for the sake of power and went to the polls with the same plank. But he remained conspicuously silent on the issue even after the people of his state gave him 22 out of 25 Lok Sabha seats, facing the crticism of soft-peddling with the NDA.

Authoritarian vibes 

Jaganmohan Reddy, after deserting the Grand Old party of the Congress, floated the Yuvajana Sramika Rytu Congress (YSRC) with Christian and Muslim minorities as a strong base. His party garnered a major chunk of votes from these segments by labelling TDP as a party hurting the interests of minorities by sharing power with the BJP-led NDA at the Centre. However, the Jagan’s party earned the moniker as an ally of BJP from outside the NDA by backing the pro-Hindutva controversial bills such as National Register of Citizens and Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). Reddy, who was in jail for 16 months for his involvement in the infamous quid-pro-quo cases, has been accused by his rivals of being soft to the Narendra Modi government, fearing prospects of reopening the cases by the central probe agencies.

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The 48-year-old Chief Minister appears displaying the signs of an authoritarian with little regard for the autonomy of constitutionally created agencies like the Andhra Pradesh State Election Commission and belief in the consultation process. When his father spent a good amount of his time for public interactions on a daily basis, Jagan Reddy chooses to be not so liberal for such interactions. Reddy government in the last one year has been the butt of criticism for delivering administration out of sync with the judicial scrutiny. Andhra Pradesh High Court passed orders, stopping just short of strictures, finding fault with several decisions of the YSRC government. They included deferment of elections to urban and rural local bodies, the introduction of English medium in primary schools and painting of village secretariat buildings with the colours identical to that of the ruling party’s flag.

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