Telangana's TRS govt should show results

If the promises it made are not fulfilled in the next two years, TRS may have to face hostile voters.

It was three years ago in 2014 that Telangana, the newest and India’s 29th state was formed after a protracted struggle, probably the longest for separate statehood in independent India. Though the movement for a separate state is as old as the formation of the united Andhra Pradesh in 1956, the agitation for separate state reached its crescendo only under K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) and his political outfit, Telangana Rastra Samithi (TRS) that was formed in 2001.

Riding on the emotions of the people, Rao galvanised the masses by invoking the Telangana sentiment and played a significant role in taking the agitation nearer to the separate statehood by deftly using his mastery over the local dialect laced with sarcasm in his public speeches. He was highly successful in striking a chord with the masses. KCR seems to be using the same sentiment card to defend the performance of his government and ward off criticism.

One marked factor that brought a visible change in the state of Telangana after its formation was the creation of 21 new districts taking the tally to 31. As a Dasara bonanza, in October 2016, Rao got all the new districts inaugurated at one go. The CM himself inaugurated the new Siddipet district carved out from Medak, to which he belonged.

For administrative convenience and providing welfare and development programmes to the people in an effective way, the new districts were expected to serve more expeditiously than before. The opposition parties though felt it was a political extravaganza.

Along with the reorganisation of the districts, five new police commisionarates also were constituted to take care of the law and order in a more effective way. With its counterpart, And­hra Pradesh continuing with 13 districts, Telangana ostensibly is no more a ‘small state’ now.

At the time of the separate state agitation, the TRS vowed for three main factors – water, jobs and funds. Therefore, no wonder that immediately on getting the state, the government declared provision of water for both irrigation and drinking, as the top priority. The CM has promised several measures to ensure 100% irrigation in Telangana.

Mission Kakatiya, the flagship programme of the government aims at reviving the 46,500 minor irrigation tanks, most of which have fallen into disuse, by spending a staggering Rs 20,000 crores. Provision for Rs 3,000 crore is made for piped drinking water to all 84 lakh households by 2018 under Mission Bhagiratha scheme. KCR asserts that his party would complete all the projects at any cost.

If the pattern of allocation of funds in this year’s tax-free state budget is of any indication of developmental activity, then great thrust is given for the SC, ST and backward communities. The government announced major schemes for sheep rearing and to promote fisheries. An amount of Rs 500 crore is set apart for the welfare of the ‘Nayi Brahmans.’ Similarly, to assist the weavers, a considerable budget allocation is made.

All these schemes have attracted flak from the opposition as the governmental encouragement of traditional avocations based on caste is only to reinforce feudal relations and continue to divide society on caste lines. The ‘Asara’ — the social security pensioners’ provision — and the farm loan waiver schemes were deprecated for the meagre sums allotted.

Remunerative prices

The Rs 4,000 per acre fertiliser subsidy as mooted by the government is welcomed by every quarter. Other than this, there is very little to cheer about in agricultural development during the three year of TRS rule. The chilli growers continue to agitate for remunerative prices. The government incurred the nationwide condemnation when some of the agitating farmers were put in chains and paraded. The menace of spurious seeds in the market that has been the scourge of farmers, still continues unabated.

Immediately on the formation of the new state, in the flush of success, the TRS government promised distribution of three acres of land free to each Dalit family, two bed-room flats to the poor and Rs 51,000 to every ST and SC bride at the time of marriage.

During the period of agitation for statehood, TRS also promised government job for one in every family in Telangana, if voted to power. The opposition leaders often remind such empty promises and accuse the CM for his select amnesia.

With every passing day, as the opposition is shrinking due to Operation Akarsh defections, the TRS, which had won 63 of the 119 seats in the state assembly elections in 2014, has expanded to 88 now. The TRS therefore continues to enjoy its roller coaster majority which may even push it towards complacency.

‘Bangaru Telangana’ (golden Telangana), that the TRS government has been promising time and again, never seems to be anywhere in sight. If the remaining two years, for which TRS has the mandate, is not spent in trying to fulfil the promises made, KCR and his party may have to confront only hostile voters during the next elections.

(The writer is retired professor of History, University of Hyderabad)

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