No maturity in Indian politics
What's happening in Andhra Pradesh? Well that was the discussion on a pleasant sunny morning when the entire family had met after a decade to celebrate Sankranti festival in a village in one of the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh.
What's happening in Andhra Pradesh? Well that was the discussion on a pleasant sunny morning when the entire family had met after a decade to celebrate Sankranti festival in a village in one of the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. Since there was no family politics to be discussed and not one was interested in cock fights, all senior citizens sipping hot coffee started wondering, what's happening in Andhra Pradesh?
It was an intense but interesting discussion straight from the heart. I broke the ice saying why this sudden doubt? In my opinion all seems to be going well in the residuary state, The Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy is young, has clear line of thinking and is implementing his agenda perfectly, I said.
There was some silence for a minute. What is being implemented perfectly, one of them asked? Well the nine jewels, Navaratnalu is being implemented which includes, Amma Vodi, YSR Asara, ban on Alcohol, Jalayagnam, Fee Reimbursement, Arogyasri, YSR Rythu Bharosa, Pedhalandariki Illu, Pensionla Pempu. Pension is being delivered at the doorstep, for students Amma Vodi programme has been launched wherein government gives Rs 15,000 per year. Door delivery of ration to begin from February 1, what else do you expect from a government that is less than two years in office? I asked.
There was smile and the next question was but what about employment generation? Welfare schemes may or may not continue depending upon which government comes to power. If employment generation is there, people will have better economic security.
Well, official records say that government has created 2.60 lakh village volunteers' posts paying a salary of Rs 5000 per month, 1.24 lakh village secretariat employees with salary of Rs 10,000 per month, civil supplies vehicles 9260 with a salary of Rs 12000 per month. Now tell me how many industries will be required to create so many jobs in such short time? One should understand the difference between unemployment and getting a gainful employment. No State in the world can ever provide jobs for all its unemployed in the government sector, I said.
Sounds interesting and impressive but, what about revenue generation, a tax practitioner posed the question. If I don't generate any revenue and go on disbursing salaries or pensions and other welfare benefits, expenditure would be more than income and state would go bankrupt, he quipped. There was big laughter among those who were participating in the discussion. See how a tax practitioner is calculating, one of them commented.
Well there is an element of truth in it. Revenue generation is must and it is a fact that this aspect needs to be focused more in the residuary state. I have some friends in industries. They have been expressing concern over the slowing down of the industrial sector. No new industry is keen to come to the state. Even HSBC, I am told is going to move out of Visakhapatnam. Real estate and IT sector is preferring neighbouring Telangana. The kind of proactiveness that is seen between the industry and government in Telangana is not visible here. This is what causes worry, he averred.
But then who is to be blamed for this? I asked. Is it not a fact that the opposition parties are creating hurdles and going to court for everything? Pat came the reply from a retired army officer, where is the Opposition here? It is badly fragmented. It has been decimated. We are witnessing a new kind of administration which does not allow any dissent or protests. Even freedom of expression is not there if one goes by the reports in newspapers. It is said that those who criticise the government are trolled and even threatened. "I don't think the common man is affected by it. All that we see is more in political circles, said a retired government officer.
The host said ' Well, we had supported YSRCP candidate. He is doing good job within his limitations but he cannot even take a delegation from here to meet the Chief Minister to submit a memorandum on some long- pending issues. Secondly, of late we have seen that religious intolerance is growing. Recently a meeting of some seers was held to get support for construction of Ram mandir at ayodhya and collect funds. Even local YSRCP MLA was there in the programme. Suddenly some stones landed near the stage. Fortunately, no one was injured'.
'By the time we could realize what was happening, there was a big thud and some chaos. When I went towards my car to pick up a packet of silk robes to be presented to a Swamiji, I found the rear windshield of my car smashed. I immediately drew the attention of the organisers. The reply I got from my MLA was shocking. Please let us not make an issue of it. We will handle it, he pleaded and there was nothing I could do except get it replaced at my own cost. But then the issue here is not of my car windshield but growing religious intolerance. Never in the past such things had happened', he bemoaned.
I intervened saying that it must be some local dissent may be some group which was opposed to the organisers or the legislator or some hooligans opposed to ruling party. My host said whoever it may be, the fact is that many such incidents have been happening and the police has failed to prevent them. Ok, I said but then how can you blame the government for it. It is a secular government. We have seen how the Chief Minister has been wearing silk robes, how he has been performing Gau puja with namam etc.
Yes, but what about desecration of idols? He shot back. That's an act of some hooligans. Such things did happen in the past as well. During previous regime some temples were removed and the promise of relocating them was never fulfilled. This government proposes to reconstruct them. The Minister for endowments himself stated this I said.
Again there was some silence. One of them asked why do you think the government is not holding local body elections. Why is there a clash between the State Election Commissioner and the government? A retired teacher who had in the past performed poll duties said, this is a funny situation we are seeing. The TDP government also had issue with the Chief Electoral Officer during last general elections but never did such a situation arise.
Employees have no voice or role in it. Once given a duty they must perform their duty. One thing is certain, thanks to the welfare measures of the government it is sure to win the local body elections. But somehow, somewhere some kind of rupture has taken place. This kind of clash between the political executive and the SEC was never there in the past. It is unfortunate development. We had seen how the government had removed the SEC and brought a new person and how the court had to intervene in the issue.
But the government says that pandemic is the cause for its opposition to hold elections and people are more important not elections, I said. Some of them reacted saying, "What are you talking." Was there no pandemic in Telangana, did not the state hold Dubbaka by poll and GHMC elections and gearing up for MLC and Nagarjuna Sagar by election? Is vaccination not being given there? Did not Kerala hold elections? Is the situation here worse than those states? Majority of the people here are not even using masks how do you say the pandemic is more severe here? Even US held elections though situation there is still not normal, he said. Well I had no answer.
US elections too have shown that politicians like Trump are no different from politicians in India or some other country. He even announced that he had won though he was losing, I said. Yes, but there is one difference. Here whichever party comes to power keeps accusing the previous government and holds them responsible for omissions and commissions. But there once the results were out, Biden is not using any harsh language against Trump. His only slogan is "We Americans are one, we are united."
Hope that kind of political maturity would be seen in India as well, a septuagenarian remarked. But the latest developments indicate that the State is heading towards constitutional crisis as the government seems to be determined not to cooperate with the SEC and the SEC is bent upon going ahead with the process of local body elections armed with the direction from the High Court.