In the by-elections that were held for two constituencies in both the Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, one thing that emerged out clearly is the fact that people have completely rejected Congress, so much so that in both the assembly constituencies Congress lost its deposit! Once a party that ruled the country for a very long period and that laid the foundation for the country’s progress is now in doldrums, and looks the party will not jump back in near future.
The by-elections in Huzurabad assembly constituency in Telangana and Badvel assembly constituency in AP saw that Congress candidates were at a distant third position. Right from first round of counting, there was no scope for Congress picking up at any point.
Though the blame game is within the Congress party, but it is fact that Telugu people in both states have completely rejected Congress. The party which was in power before the state was bifurcated, saw the party losing its ground in both the states.
A total of 30 candidates were in the fray in the by-election, necessitated due to the resignation of Eatala Rajender after he was dropped from the Telangana Cabinet by Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao over allegations of land-grabbing. Rajender then quit TRS and joined the BJP. Eatala Rajender, who has been representing the Huzurabad constituency since 2009, was seeking re-election on a BJP ticket. He was in a direct fight against Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) student wing leader Gellu Srinivas Yadav.
The Badvel constituency in Andhra Pradesh was reserved for Scheduled Castes witnessed 68.12 per cent polling. Fifteen candidates were in the fray in the bypoll that was necessitated due to the death of sitting MLA G Venkatasubbaiah of the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP). The YSRCP fielded his wife Dasari Sudha. Congress' M Kamalamma and BJP's P Suresh were also in the fray.
Andhra Pradesh: Financial crisis reveals state’s situation!
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is facing severe backlash from all quarters and the reason is that he is driving the state into severe debts! With huge cash needs to meet the welfare programmes as well as other regular expenses, the state is not in a position to meet the needs and has conveniently taken loans which has drawn it into debt trap! Will Jagan be able to pull out the state from the debts?
Issue of AP’s debts came to light today when the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) Rajya Sabha MP Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar raised the question. It has been clearly mentioned that the state government has borrowed Rs 57,479 crore from state owned banks during the period April 1st 2019 to November 30th 2021. AP’s revenue deficit is at 662.80 per cent while the fiscal deficit was up by 107.79 per cent in the first half of the 2021-22 financial year.
Earlier, it has been reported that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has pointed out lapses, both constitutional and procedural, in financial management by Andhra Pradesh government. The audit report for the financial year 2019-20 was tabled in the state Legislature.
Some of the prominent issues red flagged by the CAG are:
a) non-disclosure of off-budget borrowings running up to Rs 26,096.98 crore in budget documents;
b) transfer of Rs 1,100 crore related to the State Disaster Relief Fund to personal deposit account in violation of rules;
c) 80 per cent of borrowings utilised to balance revenue accounts affecting asset creation;
d) “unacceptable” argument to amend the Fiscal Responsibility and Budgetary Management Act in December 2020 to reset targets relating to the five-year period from 2015-16 to 2019-20;
e) effective capital expenditure amounted to just 0.72 per cent of the GSDP and finally, unsustainable level of debt to GSDP ratio.
The CAG went on to mention that the expenditure of the state was mainly focused on social services, which include education, health and welfare activities. In fact, welfare activities constituted 18 per cent of the total expenditure in Andhra Pradesh and around 13 per cent was spent on education, sports among others. In this respect, the CAG agreed that “development expenditure and expenditure on social services as a proportion of total expenditure were higher in the State compared to the other general category states.”
It also found fault with the government for not expending enough on asset creation. “This reflects poorly on the State’s commitment towards infrastructure creation,” the report said.
The financial situation of AP has become bait for opposition to attack Jagan government. The state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the Jagan government has pushed the state into a debt trap, as evident from Rs 1,45,600 crore worth loans taken by it since 2019. They observed that funds are being spent on welfare initiatives with an objective to improve individual fame, instead of revenue generation programmes.
Andhra Pradesh: NGOs give ultimatum to Jagan
In what could be a major headache to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, the Andhra Pradesh Non-Gazetted Officers (APNGOs) have warned the CM of dire consequences if an inordinate delay in revealing details of the implementation of the Pay Revision Commission’s (PRC) recommendations and lack of information regarding the 71-point charter of demands forced the employees to begin a month-long struggle to get justice from the government.
Already the NGOs have started sporting black badges and are attending the work at all the government offices across the state, as per the call given by APNGOs president Bandi Srinivasa Rao. He had urged all the staff to register their protest between Tuesday and Thursday by wearing black badges at their respective workplaces.
The employees are dissatisfied with Jagan when it comes to the way the state government is giving out their salaries, pensions and other benefits. The AP government hasn’t even put the PRC scheme into effect so far, further increasing the ire of the employees. Irked by this negligent attitude of the CM towards NGOs, Srinivasa Rao has clearly warned Jagan that they would directly go against him. Speaking logically, he said, “There are 13 Lakh government employees in the state, which means that there are 13 Lakh votes in the form of these employees. He also said that each employee can bring at least 4-5 additional votes, which sums up to around 60 Lakh additional votes.”
Srinivasa Rao has directly warned Jagan and questioned him if the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) can win the next elections without the help of employees. He threatened that he would strive to defeat Jagan in the next elections if he fails to implement PRC and meet the demands of the employees. “They would then have to lose their votes, alongside the votes of others, which could result in a great loss,” he observed.
The APNGOs head said he was not like his predecessors, while one joined the government and became MLC, and other became the advisor to YSRCP government. “We are disappointed with the lack of a proper response from officials during joint staff council meetings. There is no positive reply from officials over payment of 7 DAs and clearance of applications for withdrawal of GPF and other benefits,” he added.
Polavaram: When will it get completed?
Polavaram: Yet another blow to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and his government which had been dreaming of completing the Polavaram project by April 2022. It looks like the works will not be completed by the stipulated time and could extend inadvertently for a much longer time. Though it is not yet clear when they are likely to complete, and with third wave of Covid-10 pandemic staring at us, the delay could be very long then expected!
Earlier this year, Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti Rattan Lal Kataria has informed that Polavaram project will be completed by April, 2022, as per the revised schedule. Kataria said that though the Andhra Pradesh government informed that Polavaram Irrigation Project will be completed by December, 2021, in the 12th meeting of Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) held in April, 2020, a committee was constituted to study and come up with a project schedule and completion programme with proper planning duly backed with adequate resource mobilisation.
But that seems to be news from the past. Today it was made clear that the Polavaram project will get extended and will be not completed as scheduled. The Union Jal Shakti Ministry made a clear cut statement that the dam construction may miss yet another deadline. Citing technical reasons, the construction is getting delayed. “We have set a new target of April 2022 and hope to meet the deadline this time. But we faced difficulties in rehabilitation and compensation for the people. Covid-19 is also one of the reasons behind the delay,” read the written statement of the Union Jal Shakti Ministry.
Polavaram project question was shot by Teleugu Desam Party (TDP) Rajya Sabha MP Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar. In reply to this question the Union government made a statement on Polavaram dam in the Parliament today and told that it was not being completed by April 2022! This is has further disappointed the people of AP as well as Jagan government!
The Union government made it clear that funds will be allocated only for the irrigation component of the Polavaram Irrigation Project (PIP). In a written reply to YSRC MP V Viajayasai Reddy’s question on Polavaram project funding in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, Minister of State for Jal Shakti Bisweshwar Tudu said the Advisory Committee in February 2019 had recommended Rs 55,548 crore as the second revised cost estimate of Polavaram project at the 2017-18 price level.
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