K Chandrashekar Rao, who played a stellar role in the formation of the Telangana state is a frail and lean person like the legendary leader of Vietnam liberation struggle Ho Chi Minh. But KCR, except resembling Ho in physique, did not imbibe admirable qualities like simplicity, spotless character and empathetic commitment to the welfare and development of the people of Vietnam. Infact Ho and the masses of Vietnam became one. And KCR after becoming Chief Minister of new state of Telangana put a full stop to the earlier practice of chief ministers meeting common people for an hour every day.
Ho Chi Min after becoming President of north Vietnam refused to occupy a huge palace built by the French colonial power for its Governor General and instead constructed a small hut for his residence. In contrast, KCR chose to demolish well-constructed bungalows to construct an impregnable mansion named Pragati Bhavan on nine-acres valuable plot of land at a cost of more than Rs 100 crore and started living beyond the reach of people.
While dissent, debate and considered airing of differences are the identity of Telangana people KCR chose to curb these very tendencies. He did not allow the democracy to function in its fullness and he has also discouraged vibrant intellectual life within a few months of his becoming chief minister. He took these undemocratic steps, despite his promise made in the election manifesto to have his people all the fundamanental rights including freedom of expression and holding of meetings. For some reason or other KCR also abolished the Dharna Chowk near Indira Park, the venue fixed for holding of protest meetings by the previous governments.
As most of the media in Telangana is in the hands of Andhraites, it meekly acquiesced to KCR's diktats and stopped writing or telecasting news critical of government and from then on the journalists both in print and electronic media were required to toe the KCR line or all of Chandrasekhariology. Actually, in a democracy media is required to form an independent judgment of the public interest. That is what the Fourth Estate means- An institution independent of all other centres of power.
As a federal judge of America opined in a Pentagon Papers case “A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know. Only a free media will ensure informed, representative government. Without credible newspapers and TV channels in Telangana, it would be rulers who would be dealing with a much scarier and intractable problems. KCR's sudden decision to dissolve the state legislative assembly months before its term of expiry, came as a surge of relief to democratic-minded people of Telangana.
The people of Telangana were in fact utterly disgusted with the unfettered autocratic rule of KCR with a mix of populist politics. There was no check on KCR from doing crooked things like inflating estimates of mission bhagiradha by leaps and bounds.KCR also choose to adopt similar methods in the case of irrigation projects. All this enabled him allegedly to make enormous amounts of money for his own use.
Without even batting an eyelid, KCR went back on his public promise to make Harijan legislator the first Chief Minister of new Telangana state. He assured the people of Telangana that he will remain a watchdog. From the beginning of Telangana agitation under his leadership, till the recent dissolution of State Assembly KCR made many promises to people of Telangana and went back on many of those promises. Despite this KCR has the habit of saying that he would never “ever go back on his words". And when if “I go back on my word, I will slay my head". This way by now he would have been beheaded many a time.
Even when we examine TRS's election manifesto we can see that 60 per cent of the promises made in it remained unimplemented. Yet KCR unashamedly boasts of implementing his party's manifesto cent percent. The very first promise in the manifesto of constituting a state level advisory committee consisting of newspaper editors, subject experts, educationists, persons working in various sectors still remains to see the light of the day. And in the medical and health sector the manifesto promised to construct super speciality hospitals in every district head quarter. It also promised to get hundred bedded hospital in each assembly constituency. And it also talked of constructing a 30 bedded hospital in each mandal headquarter, with four doctors.
The manifesto gave high importance to the welfare of scheduled castes. It promised to spend Rs 50000 crore for the welfare and development of Scheduled Castes in the next five years and it also said three acres of land will be allotted to each SC family dependent on agriculture. But in the last four and half years not even Rs 12000 crore was spent, despite its promise that the funds allocated for SCs will be spent hundred percent on SCs only.
Regarding BCs the manifesto promised to strive to secure 33 per cent reservation in the Assembly and other constitutional bodies. It assured to spend Rs 25000 crore on comprehensive development of BCs.Regarding handloom sector the manifesto talked of forming a public sector undertaking on the lines of Co-Optex to purchase all handloom and power loom cloth made in Telangana. This also has not materialised till now.
Regarding protecting of women, KCR came out with an admirable scheme called SHE teams and it is working well. For minorities KCR promised 12 per cent reservations in Telangana. This promise also did not materialise till now. For the welfare of journalists the manifesto stated that all the journalists will be allotted house sites and houses and they will also be given accreditation and health cards. A Journalist Bhawan with all fixtures and facilities will be constructed at Hyderabad, declared the manifesto.
(Chennamaneni Rajeshwarao - The author is a senior.journalist).