Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu never tires of blowing his own trumpet—be it his seniority in the political scene or as the longest serving chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh. He also keeps harping on his contribution to the city of Hyderabad, to the expansion of the IT industry in the Telangana state capital and often goes so far as to say that Cyberabad today owes its existence to him.
Amidst the slew of all these claims that the TDP chief makes, facts often get blurred. His contribution to Hyderabad has been questioned and put under the microscope by analysts. Most of his tall claims stood exposed. The other question worth asking is if he had indeed developed Hyderabad to the extent he had and placed it on the world map, then what did he do for Rayalaseema? After all, Chandrababu Naidu belongs to the Rayalaseema region and always refers to its backwardness. That the Rayalaseema region is indeed a very backward region needs no reiteration and yet the TDP chief seems to forget that he did precious little for his own region. Placed against the context of his claim of having been the longest serving chief minister, this is perhaps one of the most glaring gaps in his governance. If he had neglected Rayalaseema earlier, the region fared no better after 2014 when he took over as the chief minister of the newly formed state. So, where did Chandrababu Naidu's sudden love for the Kadapa Steel plant spring from?
Only on Thursday, the Centre clarified in a very elaborate press release that the AP government did not furnish the required information to complete the feasibility report on the availability of mining and iron ore resources in the area. The Centre tossed the ball squarely into Chandrababu Naidu's court saying that repeated rounds of consultations and reviews involving all stakeholders had been held. Ignoring all these facts, the AP chief minister went about laying the foundation stone for the Kadapa steel plant claiming that it would be built at AP government's cost.
Has Chandrababu Naidu ever revealed that the Centre had appointed a high-level task force which also had representatives from the state government in it? While the Central government may not have committed itself yet to the completion of the steel project, it has taken the process forward and the state government needs to be on board for some of these steps to go through, as the steel ministry said. Why is Chandrababu silent on the fact that Mecon, a reputed consultant firm has been hired by the high-level task force to prepare the draft of the feasibility report, has not received the information it needs to put together a study of this kind . Instead, the AP chief minister goes about laying the foundation stone for the Kadapa steel plant, claiming non-cooperation from the Centre. In this political ping-pong, it is clearly the people of Rayalaseema who are at the receiving end.
If any leader in recent history contributed to the development of the Rayalaseema region, it was indeed the late Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy. Apart from taking forward the Telugu Ganga and Handri-Neeva projects in a big way, it was Dr YSR who initiated the Galeru-Nagari project for the benefit of the farmers of the region. Similarly, Dr YSR’s focus on other irrigation projects in the region and reservoirs such as Gandikota, Vamikonda, Pothireddypadu and Sarvarajasagar reservoirs among others which he initiated, earned him a permanent place in the hearts of farmers of the Rayalaseema region.
It becomes clear that of the seven chief ministers who hailed from Rayalaseema, it was Dr YSR alone, who contributed significantly to the development of the region, while in contrast Chandrababu Naidu who brags of having been the longest serving chief minister did precious little even when compared to the earnest efforts of his father-in-law and former chief minister NT Rama Rao.
So, why is it that Chandrababu Naidu has woken up to the need for a foundation stone if nothing else for the Kadapa Steel Plant? It is evident that he thinks that by indulging in such gimmicks which are then widely promoted in a systematic propaganda campaign by his select media outlets, he can score a major victory in popular perception. If there is one thing one can say with complete justification about Chandrababu Naidu in this context, it is that he undermines the collective intelligence of the people of Andhra Pradesh. Perhaps it is the fear of defeat in the elections staring him in the face which drives him to indulge in such stunts.
It is about time that Nara Chandrababu Naidu looked at himself in the mirror and ask the all important question of whose fault is it anyway?