Year-ender 2020: Andhra Pradesh a big loser as political slugfest rages on
Year-ender 2020 Andhra Pradesh: The State gained nothing much from the Centre. Polavaram remains at a slow pace affected by politics. The Special Category Status has vanished from the horizon
Year-ender 2020 Andhra Pradesh: Much of the year 2020 has been spent, wondering over the 'state' of Andhra Pradesh. Whether you are new to the discipline of geography or not, most people were introduced to the field through looking at maps or elementary school exercises where you were made to memorise capital cities.
While these activities are indeed fundamental to geography, the discipline expands well beyond the confines of maps and capital cities. One might wonder what has all this got to do with Andhra Pradesh in juxtaposing it over 2020 to understand the year that is fading away into history. Geopolitics, as the struggle over the control of spaces and places, focuses on power, or the ability to achieve particular goals in the face of opposition or alternatives. Having understood this, we need to elaborate further, to comprehend Andhra Pradesh in 2020.
We need to understand the geo-politics that have come into play this year to know why the state is on a precipice of a dilemma. Do we have a capital or not? Can anyone from the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh which came into existence in 2014 ever claim to have a capital?
This doubt becomes pertinent in the face of the long-winding legal battle that the state has entered. Amaravati would have been our capital, provided we were to have a city springing up there. Or at least a proper working arrangement. It did not happen during the term of the first government of the residuary state. Next came a different rule.
This one does not accept or recognise the existence of the capital as "nothing stands here except some temporary structures". Farmers of the conjured 'Amaravati' donated 33,000 acres of land to the land pool proposed by the Government. As if someone performed a 'Houdini's Act' these lands lost their shape and character in a jiffy only to remain barren now.
The 'Capital' now is in litigation and no one knows when and where it would come up subject to the final outcome. By the way, what is a capital? Is it where the people reside or where the 'Raja'' lives? If there is a puzzle to be understood and solved by the people of AP, this one is the toughest.
And so the debate goes on endlessly in 2020 over the state of the capital. Next to dominate the year was the 'Tom & Jerry Show'. All of us have watched it at one point of time or the other. This show too has two players -the state and the SEC. Like the capital shift, the state sought the SEC head's shift too.
This show too finally ended in litigation and it keeps entertaining the people often, week by week, in an episodic manner. Tragedies galore struck the people this year, yet, the biggest of all was the LG Polymers tragedy of Visakhapatnam that claimed about a dozen lives and hospitalised many more. What was shocking was the optics of it.
The way people were falling like ninepins after inhaling the poisonous gas. Somehow, this too was kicked to the litigation box and it lies there. There was joy among the sections benefited by the manifesto implementation of course. Why not? After all, rarely does one come across such a seriousness in implementing the promises notwithstanding the financial stakes involved.
But, all this has come in the wake of the disgusting Covid-19 which the government thought would be an easy walk initially. No. It had its toll. It was a blessing in disguise because the Government used to upgrade the facilities in hospitals, strengthened the infrastructure and did a good job by scaling up the tests to number one position in the country. 'Naadu, Nedu' was another blessing with the education infrastructure getting a facelift.
Politically speaking, the state gained nothing much from the Centre. Polavaram remains at a slow pace affected by politics. The Special Category Status has vanished from the horizon. The bitterness and rivalry between the ruling party and the Opposition (read TDP) has only increased.
Jana Sena keeps coughing and huffing and puffing on and off with its leader seeking the elusive path to glory. The BJP in the State remains in a confused state in identifying its enemy. The Left is left out. One could only hope that the mist clears over everything this coming year.
Jan 9: Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy launched Amma Vodi programme in Chittoor district under which the state government will extend financial assistance to the tune of Rs 15,000 a year to the mothers/guardians who send their children/wards to government schools.
Jan 14: BJP and Jana Sena Party led by actor-turned politician Pawan Kalyan formed an alliance to emerge as the third alternative in Andhra Pradesh with the ultimate objective of forming government in the state in 2024. JSP chief Pawan Kalyan and BJP state president Kanna Lakshminarayana in a joint press conference on in Vijayawada announced the decision after nearly four hours of intense discussions.
Jan 20: Putting an end to 'dream capital' Amaravati as envisaged by former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's Cabinet approved a proposal to have three capitals for Andhra Pradesh amid protests by thousands of farmers of the Amaravati region who voluntarily gave 33,000 acre land for it under land pooling scheme, and TDP. The government proposed to retain Amaravati as the legislative capital, while making Visakhapatnam the home for executive and Kurnool the judicial capital.
Jan 27: State Assembly passes a resolution abolishing Legislative Council after the Opposition TDP dominated wing of the legislature sent back two Bills on three capitals. The TDP has 27 seats in the 58-member Council.
Feb 8: Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy inaugurated the first Disha Police Station in the state in Rajamahendravaram. Disha police stations are model stations aimed at rendering speedy justice for women victims of sexual assault (rape), harassment and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. The new police station will have a counsellor, mobile kits to collect medical and scientific evidence, and care takers to help the victims who come to the station.
Feb 15: Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy met Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in New Delhi and sought steps to move the main bench of the AP High Court from Amaravati to Kurnool as decided by the state government. He said the state government had decided to have three capitals for AP to ensure equal development of all the regions.
Feb 18: Nadu-Nedu scheme for modernising hospitals was launched by Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy in Kurnool. Under the scheme, a whopping Rs 15,337 will be spent to modernise all the government hospitals in three years. The CM said all the government hospitals would be constructed or modernised to be on par with the highest Indian standards.
March 10: In a major setback for the Jagan Mohan Reddy the Andhra Pradesh High Court disapproved of YSRCP party colours on the panchayat buildings and directed the government to immediately repaint them. The High Court's order comes ahead of scheduled panchayat elections.
March 12: Andhra Pradesh records first Covid-19 positive case. A person who returned to his native Nellore from Italy became the first coronavirus case in the state.
March 15: The State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar announced the postponement of local body elections scheduled to take place from March 17 to March 29 for six weeks, citing surging cases of coronavirus cases, triggering a political war that still continues in the state. Taking serious exception to the 'arbitrary move' by the SEC Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy the very next day met Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan complaining that SEC's decision was influenced by Opposition TDP.
April 8: The state government suspended anaesthetist of Narsipatnam Area Hospital, Sudhakar Rao, after a video wherein he expressed his anguish over shortage of masks, personal protective equipment (PPEs) in the government hospitals went viral. On April 7, the medical and health department strongly denied the allegations of Dr Sudhakar Rao. The suspension sparked a debate on social media as well as protests from opposition TDP.
April 10: The YSRCP government effectively removed Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar from office by issuing an ordinance reducing the term of SEC from 5 years to 3 years amending the AP Panchayat Raj Act. On April, Justice (Retd) V Kanagaraj assumes office as new State Election Commissioner. Kanagaraj, 75, assumed charge within hours of his appointment in the SEC thereby pre-empting his predecessor from moving the court challenging his removal.
April 12: The state government decided to distribute 16 crore masks in the state to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy orders conducting of tests on 32,349 people who have been identified by the ASHA workers and ANMs during the third round of door-to-survey.
April 20: The death of a 35-year-old Shaik Mohammed Ghouse, at Sattenapalli, within an hour after he was allegedly thrashed by police for stepping out of his house to buy medicines during the lockdown, sparked protests in the town. Following allegations and protests, the police higher-ups suspended II Town SI D Ramesh after conducting a preliminary inquiry. Ghouse, a timber depot owner from Venkatapathi Nagar, collapsed after a confrontation with police.
May 7: Eleven people died and more than 1,000 fell sick after inhaling poisonous styrene gas leaked from LG Polymers Ltd, at Gopalapatnam in Visakhapatnam. The incident took place when LG polymers was making arrangements for reopening the plant after closed for more than 40 days due to corona induced lockdown.
May 16: The state has extended the YSR Rythu Bharosa-PM Kisan Scheme for second consecutive year to assist the distressed farmers. Under the scheme farmers are eligible to seek the assistance of Rs 13, 500 on an annual basis. Out of this, Rs 7,500 is contributed by the state and Rs 6,000 is contributed by the Centre.
May 17: Police roughed up Dr K Sudhakar Rao, who was suspended for protesting scarcity of PPEs in government hospitals during coronavirus, tied his hands and dragged him on the road kicking up a political row.
June 16: AP Legislative Assembly passed the AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill 2020 and the Bill to repeal AP Capital Region Development Authority Act 2014 by presenting them in the Assembly for the second time. The Bill enables the setting up of three capitals with Amaravati being the Legislative Capital, Visakhapatnam being the Executive Capital and Kurnool as the Judicial Capital.
June 16: Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath has tabled the annual budget for the year 2020-21 with an outlay of Rs 2.25 lakh crore. The budget estimates entail an overall decrease of 1.4 per cent over the 2019-20 budget estimates on account of the economic slowdown due to Covid pandemic. The budget estimates include a revenue expenditure of Rs 1,80,789 crore and a capital expenditure of Rs 44,396 crore.
July 16: The state government constituted a high-level committee headed by the Chief Secretary to study the modalities for carving out new districts. The decision was taken during a Cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister
YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. According to the YSRC formula, 12 new districts need to be carved out of existing 13 districts.
Aug 9: Ten people died after a massive fire broke out in a Covid-19 facility at Hotel Swarna Palace in Vijayawada. Around 30 people have been rescued from the building. State announced Rs 50 lakhs ex gratia each to the families of those who lost their lives in the fire.
Aug 12: Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy launched a new Rs 17,000 crore YSR Cheyutha scheme to promote entrepreneurship among women. Under the scheme, the government will provide marketing, technical assistance and the banks will provide loans.
Sept 5: Andhra Pradesh has been declared as No.1 State in ease of doing business ranking for 2019, retaining its top position among all States and Union Territories (UTs) based on the implementation of the business reform action plan, according to a report prepared by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
Sept 9: YSRCP govt's 3 capitals plan gets Centre's nod. There is no statutory provision disallowing the State government from having more than one capital, the Ministry of Home Affairs has declared before the AP High Court. The Central government has also asserted that it has no role in deciding the location of the capital of a state. Under Article 3 of the Constitution, there is provision only for creation of new States and other related matters.
Oct 11: In a sensational development, Principal Advisor to Chief Minister Ajeya Kallam discloses at a press conference in Vijayawada that CM Jagan has lodged a complaint with the CJI against SC Judge N V Ramana. The CM says that Justice NV Ramana had been influencing the sittings of the State High Court, including the roster of some judges. Jagan urges CJI S A Bobde to consider initiating steps to ensure that AP's judicial neutrality was maintained.
Nov 24: Govt launches Abhayam project for safety & security of women passengers. Phase 1 of the project initiated in Visakhapatnam by launching 1,000 auto-rickshaws with GPS enabled tracking device. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy virtually launches the app at the camp office in Tadepalli. Driver behaviour can be monitored through the device.
The project is a State-based IoT project that has been sanctioned by the Centre under the Nirbhaya scheme.
Dec 5: A large number of people began to flock to Government Hospital in Eluru with a mysterious illness which affected over 500 people. One death has also been reported., Several people with symptoms like nausea and foam oozing from mouth have been admitted to the hospital. A 45-year-old man Sridhar reportedly died due to the illness. While patients' relatives alleged that he died due negligence of doctors, the hospital authorities said that he was suffering from other ailments.
Dec 16: Chief Minister YS Jagan mohan Reddy meets Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and seeks early release of funds to the tune of Rs 55,656 crore for the Polavaram project. Besides the pending dues of the Polavaram project, the Chief Minister also discussed inter-State river water issues.