Hyderabad: The first full calendar year for the newly-created state of Telangana was an eventful one as, despite teething problems, the TRS government launched many initiatives and sustained the Telangana sentiment.
Notwithstanding a severe drought and a spate of farmers’ suicides, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government’s performance was creditable as it overcame electricity shortages, launched major irrigation projects and implemented welfare schemes.
The political stability helped Hyderabad bounce back as an investment destination, indicated by the major plans unveiled by global IT giants and its emergence as an aviation and defence hub.
The government started work on its flagship projects like Mission Kakatiya aimed at restoring 46,000 irrigation tanks, Water Grid to ensure drinking water supply to every house and two bedroom houses for poor.
However, severe drought hit agriculture production and the falling water levels in dams and the ground water table had impact on irrigation schemes. The much-publicised Harithaharam or green Telangana programme could not take off.
Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao laid the foundation stone for major irrigation projects, including Rs.35,000 crore (over $5 billion) Palamuru lift irrigation project.
KCR, as Rao is popularly known, claimed that with an annual allocation of Rs.28,000 for various welfare schemes like social security pension, Telangana is the No.1 state in the country in welfare.
The TRS government managed to tide over the electricity shortage. Unlike last year, the state witnessed no power cuts this year. The government also embarked on a massive programme to add 25,000 MW of power with an investment of Rs.90,000 crore in four years.
Barring one incident in which five Muslim undertrial prisoners were gunned down by the police in April, there were no law and order problems. Police also effectively countered the attempts of Maoist resurgence.
There was also no public discontent as political observers said whatever issues were there, the opposition failed to leverage them to dent the ruling party.
Finances remain an issue as the central government was not forthcoming on the state’s plea for additional assistance. Though the 14th Finance Commission recommended an increased quantum of assistance, the central government either discontinued centrally assisted schemes or reduced its share.
“What the centre is giving by one hand, it is taking the same by the other,” Syed Amid Jafri, a veteran journalist and a member of the Telangana legislative council, told IANS.
Given the financial position, the TRS couldn’t deliver what it promised and hence, KCR felt the need to sustain and strengthen the Telangana sentiment, another observer pointed out.
The government earmarked Rs.1,000 crore to Rs.1,200 crore on cultural activities like celebrating ‘Bathukamma’ as a state festival, and developing the Yadgiri (now Yadadri) temple as Telangana’s Tirupati that went to the residual Andhra Pradesh.
The sentiment helped TRS in its massive victory in the by-election to the Warangal Lok Sabha seat. “It successfully managed to create an atmosphere of us versus them and virtually eliminated its rivals by branding them Andhrites or outsiders,” said an observer.
The year also witnessed a huge row over the cash-for-vote scam in which a TDP legislator was caught red-handed while offering Rs.50 lakh to an independent member of the legislative council to vote for the TDP candidate in the council elections.
KCR went all out to launch a bitter attack on his Andhra Pradesh counterpart and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu for what he called a conspiracy to topple the TRS government.
In the aftermath of this, Naidu shifted base from Hyderabad to Vijayawada, after which KCR also softened his stand and attended the foundation stone laying ceremony for Andhra’s new capital of Amaravati in October.
For the second time in two months, the TRS chief visited Vijayawada, this time to invite Naidu for Ayutha Chandi Maha Yagam, a five-day ritual he organised near Hyderabad earlier in the week to end the year on a high note.