2021: YSRC steamrolls Oppn, rains unleash fury in AP

YSRC steamrolls Opposition, rains unleash fury in Andhra Pradesh in 2021

Prohibition of liquor in phases has been one of the flagship programmes 'Navaratnalu' (nine gems)

"Maata tappam, madama tippam” (we will not go back on our word nor do we flip our heels) has always been Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s buzzword. Credit: PTI File Photo

The year 2021 was a mixed bag for the ruling YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh as the party re-established its political dominance against rival TDP, sweeping the civic polls, but alleged flip-flops over its policy decisions, including on its pet 'three capitals' and prohibition, prompted opposition fire.

Monsoon fury late in the year devastated Rayalaseema, leading to loss of lives and property. Covid-19 peaked in August during the second wave, when the total cases touched the 20 million mark.

"Maata tappam, madama tippam” (we will not go back on our word nor do we flip our heels) has always been Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s buzzword.

But there were visible changes in government stand on key issues. The "avowed" policy of total prohibition of liquor has been altered to merely 'reduction in consumption'.

Prohibition of liquor in phases has been one of the flagship programmes 'Navaratnalu' (nine gems), which Reddy refers to as "our Bhagavad Gita, Quran and Bible".

The profits from liquor sales, which is now completely in government hands, has crossed at least Rs 12,000 crore so far this year, with indications that the figure may cross Rs 16,000 crore, implying it is a key source of raking in the moolah.

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"The Navaratnalu are dropping like nine pins. The somersault on liquor prohibition is a glaring example. Going back on every promise has become the hallmark of Jagan's administration," Jana Sena Political Affairs Committee Chairman Nadendla Manohar noted.

Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said Jagan 'degraded' AP to such a state that welfare schemes were only possible through income from liquor.

The ruling YSR Congress, though, has not reacted on the issue. After two years of batting for establishing three capitals for the state, the government in November passed a Bill in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, repealing the controversial AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020, which was intended to establish an Executive Capital in Visakhapatnam, Legislative Capital at Amaravati and Judicial Capital in Kurnool.

Reddy, however, said the government would come up with a "complete, comprehensive and better" Bill to take forward his "decentralised development" plan after explaining "our genuine intention and the need for decentralisation" to all concerned and incorporating necessary changes.

Among others, the government passed a resolution in the Assembly, withdrawing its earlier statutory resolution, seeking abolition of the state Legislative Council, where it incidentally now enjoys a majority.

"It only exposed the arrogance of the ruling party. When we were in majority, the YSRC wanted the Council disbanded but since it gained majority now, the latter is seeking its continuation," Telugu Desam MLC P Ashok Babu lashed out.

Other rollbacks included the much-vaunted job recruitment calendar, though finally released in June this year, as none of the promised jobs were notified, besides the Government Orders on taking over aided educational institutions. Following a huge public outcry, the move was termed as only "optional".

And, the government expressly announced that it cannot abolish the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), as promised earlier, because "even the state Budget will not be sufficient" if the word is honoured. Ahead of the 2019 elections, Jagan, as the then Opposition leader, promised to abolish the CPS for government employees "within a week" on assuming power.

"If we now look into it (CPS) … the financial or other aspects … even the entire budget will not be sufficient," government advisor (public affairs) S R K Reddy remarked, indicating that the CPS would stay.

Alleged flip-flops on the administrative front apart, the YSRC nevertheless scored political points, making a clean sweep of the elections to rural and urban local bodies. The local bodies’ poll process that began in March 2020, finally concluded in mid-2021 overcoming the Covid-19 and legal obstacles.

The principal opposition Telugu Desam was reduced to nothing in the local bodies while other parties barely made their mark. The Congress continued to remain a non-entity in the state politics even as the BJP gained little.

The year also saw the peaking of the Covid-19 pandemic in AP as the total number of cases crossed the two million mark on August 20, riding on the second wave.

May 2021 had been the worst Covid-19 month in the state when the highest number of 5,71,973 positives were registered, while it was also marked with 5,46,063 recoveries and 2,877 deaths.

Floods, caused by heavy rains, on an unprecedented scale devastated the arid Rayalaseema region in November, claiming at least 48 lives and rendering hundreds of families, mainly in Kadapa district, homeless.

By the end of 2021, state government employees went into an agitation mode, with the government yet to take a call on their long-pending demands, including implementation of the pay revision commission recommendations.

The government has been resetting the deadline for addressing employees’ issues but a settlement still remained evasive as talks were stuck in a deadlock, mainly on the quantum of pay enhancement. 

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