By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, May 14: A year has passed since bitter political rivals YS Rajasekhar Reddy and N Chandrababu Naidu swapped their roles in State politics.
Even after taking over the reins of the State, chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy continued with his pet mass contact programme, going to people almost on a weekly basis for a first hand assessment of their problems. Rajasekhar Reddy, who created a record in State politics by travelling on foot about 1600 km while in Opposition, is carrying on the tradition, albeit by a helicopter.
On the other hand, Chandrababu Naidu kept himself away from people visiting districts only occasionally. This is in contrast with Chandrababu Naidu the chief minister, who used to helihop quite regularly even to remotest of villages.
Here is a brief look on their roles on various issues during the past one year.
YSR's role: Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy faced initial hiccups in his mega Jalayagnam mission. He has to face a series of legal battles delaying the start of the irrigation projects. YSR has become the first chief minister in the past 50 years to launch work simultaneously on 30 and odd irrigation projects.
Babu's role: Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu created hurdles for the Congress government. His Telugu Desam opposed the procedure of allotment of tenders alleging largescale financial irregularities. The TD leadership failed to offer any concrete suggestions to the government during the weekly debates on irrigation projects, except levelling charges against the YSR government.
YSR's role: Provided free power to 95 per cent of farmers. Waived off power dues. However, the government failed to contain suicides, sale of spurious seed and substandard pesticides and fertilisers. Government yet to fulfill its promises on Seed Act and Farm Mission. The recommendation of Farmers' Welfare Commission not accepted in toto.
Fails to provide remunerative prices for agriculture products. Prices hit 10 year low.
Babu's role: As leader of the Oppostion Babu did not offer any constructive suggestions to the Congress government to contain suicides. Babu stage "satyagraha" and visits market yards a year after keeping silent on farmers' problems. Babu, who opposed compenstion for farmers for nine long years, now demands that YSR pay ex-gratia to the kin of farmers who committed suicide.
YSR's role: No health minister for the past one year. Yet to fulfill the pre-poll promise of withdrawing user charges in government hospitals. The all-important health sector received a raw deal. However, recruits about 1000 doctors for rural areas.
Babu's role: Babu, who introduced user charges in hospitals, now wants it to be withdrawn. The TD supremo did not make a strong case for the long-neglected health sector either in the State Assembly or outside except for a few statements that government hospitals are not maintained properly. Still boasts of giving the modern Gandhi Hospital to the State.
4. Law & Order:
YSR's role: Law and Order touches its nadir during the past 12 months. The number of violent incidents go up. Faction politics raise its ugly head after a long time in Rayalaseema.
Babu's role: He finds himself in the dock for letting loose his partymen on the rampage. First, the TD activists took the State to ransom following the murder of party MLA Paritala Ravindra. Thousands of vehicles and property worth several crores were damaged in arson and looting. Even during the filing of nomination papers by TD candidate and Ravi's wife Sunita, TD activists hurled stones at and clashed with the police, forcing the latter to open fire killing six persons. One ASI was lynched by the mob. On both the occasions Babu defended his partymen saying the violence was spontaneous.
YSR's role: YSR created a history of sorts by inviting Maoists for talks. Initially the government did not insist on laying down of arms as a pre-condition for the peace talks. But when the process began, the government made its mind clear to the Maoists that they should not carry arms. A series of encounters by the police and violent attacks by Maoists led to the cancellation of the talks process.
Babu's role: Babu kept quiet all through the year without opening his mouth on the crucial talks. The Telugu Desam's repeated stand on the talks was that it was for the government to take decisions.
6. Populist schemes:
YSR's role: Though he scrapped Janmabhoomi, YSR continued the programme in a new format with his Prajapatham, Rajiv Pallebata and Rajiv Nagarabata. YSR has been at the doorsteps of people almost on a weekly basis during the past one year.
Babu's role: Enconched himself at NTR Bhavan without moving out of the city. He fought for people's cause only on a couple of occasion. However, he kept himself busy fighting with the government on issues pertaining to the Telugu Desam activists and leaders, be it faction killings or arrests.
YSR's role: YSR has been following in Babu's footsteps as far as economic reforms and borrowings from the World Bank are concerned.
Yet to fulfill the pre-poll promise of reviving units closed during the Babu's regime. Gave nod for removal of employees in several departments and continuance of contract system.
Babu's role: Has been silent thus far.
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