Message to Jagan from the fall of KCR Fortress

4 Min
Message to Jagan from the fall of KCR Fortress

by Prasad Nallapati*

Telangana, the youngest province that was carved out of the erstwhile combined Andhra Pradesh, has just witnessed a regime change.  The Bharat Rashtra Samithi (formerly known as Telangana Rashtra Samithi) led by K. Chandrasekhar Rao (popularly KCR) was voted out in the Nov 30 ballot after nearly ten years in power. It is victory for the resurgent Telangana Congress. 

Whatever happens in Telangana will have its reverberations in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh (AP). Both states are Telugu speaking.  Both have lived together for about 60 years. Elections are due in AP in five months.

The BRS was regarded as a spoiler of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the last AP election that led to the latter’s defeat and the victory of YSR Party led by Jagan Mohan Reddy.

BRS Supremo KCR had choked off all sources of funding to the TDP, which lay centred in Hyderabad, while extending all assistance to Jagan Reddy.

Current equations in Telangana may mean an advantage to the other side. Revanth Reddy is the new head of the government in Hyderabad.  Before joining the Congress, he headed the state TDP, and was a close associate of party supremo, Chandra Babu Naidu (CBN)

Context of BRS loss in Telangana

Many factors that are attributed to KCR’s defeat are equally prevalent in the Jagan darbar.

KCR is arrogant and mostly inaccessible to the people or even to his own ministers and legislators. He is accused of often retiring to his farmhouse at the outskirts of Hyderabad for weeks and barely attending office. He transformed into a full-blown autocrat.

Part of KCR’s overconfidence in his infallibility owes to his success in taking the young state to new heights.

Agriculturally backward region has become top producer of paddy in the country, thanks to irrigation projects that came up under his sharp eye. A state of power shortages has become a surplus one.

His public health insurance scheme has become a model for the entire country. His social welfare schemes doling out money to weaker sections like the SCs, women, and farmers were quite novel and popular. Dharani portal for digitalization of land records is a pioneering experiment in the country.

However, KCR’s conviction of his invincibility gave birth to grandiose visions of seeing himself as a future king or kingmaker of India. He made rounds of opposition parties across the country offering to fully underwrite all financial needs to challenge the ruling BJP in return for anointing him as the national coordinator.

He changed the name of his Telangana Rashtra Samithi to Bharat Rashtra Samithi, to give wings to his ambitions. He devoted considerable time to build a base in neighbouring Karnataka and southern Maharashtra.

He targeted Prime Minister Modi with choicest abuses.

But he soon found his daughter, Kavitha, a former member of Parliament, allegedly involved in a liquor scam that shook the Delhi government of Aam Admi Party (AAP) and saw several    biggies going to jail.

With all his energies now focused on reaching a compromise with the BJP leadership to save his daughter, KCR’s national political ambitions collapsed like a pack of cards.

Scars developed across all his pet schemes giving credence to the opposition allegation of corruption involving all the KCR’s family members including his son, K. T. Ramarao (KTR), the unanointed crown prince.

The prestigious Kaleshwaram irrigation project developed cracks raising questions on the quality of construction under his regime.  Despite record production of paddy, there were serious issues relating to marketing and procurement.

For every beneficiary of his welfare schemes, there were equal or a greater number of disgruntled people who did not get the benefit despite being deserved.

Unemployment has risen to new heights creating a huge mass of fretting and fuming youth, who were in the forefront of the agitation for separate Telangana state a decade ago.

KCR’s Defeat is Set Back to Jagan Reddy  

Jagan Reddy in AP has lost a major support base with the defeat of KCR in Telangana. His other leg of support comes from Prime Minister Modi, which has so far been intact. But it may not take long to change the scenario if he is seen losing grip on the state.

Like his Telangana mentor, Jagan Reddy is also considered to be arrogant, autocrat and inaccessible. Most of his decisions are unilateral that often failed the test of judicial scrutiny.  While he is little restrained in his language, he let loose a group of his ministers who crossed all limits of decency and dignity. 

However, in contrast to KCR’s developmental work along with welfare schemes, Jagan Reddy appears to rely entirely on the latter to ride back to power in the forthcoming elections.  He has a scheme to dole out exchequer money for poorer sections at every level, from cradle to cremation. That has earned him enormous goodwill though the treasury slumped to abysmal debts that the next government will have serious problem to deal with. 

Economic development has been a big casualty of Jagan policies with even the existing industries and entrepreneurs moving out of the state. Employment creation is zero and both skilled and unskilled workers have made a bee line to Hyderabad and beyond.

Irrigation schemes of great potential were halted leading to disruption of agricultural production.  Once known to be the cradle of paddy production Andhra Pradesh is now on the verge of losing its sheen. 

Whatever can go wrong has gone wrong and it is going to be a herculean task to reverse the course.

Jagan Reddy nevertheless hopes to cashin the popularity of his welfare schemes and money power to sail through. He is aided and guided by famous pollster Prashant Kishore and his researchers.

But, as proven in Telangana, those who are arrogant and take things for granted always bit the dust.

(Courtesy:  Deccan Council for Strategic Initiatives)

 —* The writer is President of the Hyderabad-based think tank, Deccan Council for Strategic Initiatives, and a former Additional Secretary to Govt of India.

This commentary first appeared on the website of Deccan Council for Strategic Initiatives