The newly formed Telugu Desam had stormed to power in 1989 creating a world record for the shortest period after registration as a political party, for an entity to win an election. Many populist schemes were undertaken by NT Rama Rao during his first stint as CM, and he enjoyed vast mass support.
During his next term in office after winning power again in the 1994 elections, many deviations and laxity of administration set in, besides family squabbles, which culminated in his being unseated and the reins of power going to N Chandrababu Naidu in 1995 who was an astute politician and a strong administrator.
Simultaneously the Maoist organisations became strong all over Andhra Pradesh. Many youths flocked to this movement both as over-ground workers as well as in the ranks of the underground armed cadres. A parallel administration was created in many Mandals (Taluks). But Chandrababu Naidu also rose to the occasion and tackled the bull by the horns. Not being a part of the Central Government, he did not expect much help from the Centre, nor did he wish to be overly dependent.
After several brainstorming sessions with his close advisers and noted security experts, he decided upon a two pronged approach of re-establishing the writ of the civil administration and ensuring that developmental works are pursued, and secondly strengthening and revitalising the Police Force whatever be the costs.
The Andhra Pradesh Police Force underwent a total transformation in its work culture and level of accountability and within a year's time started showing results against the Maoists. They gained the upper hand against the entrenched Maoists who then either laid low or migrated to neighbouring States, or got eliminated.
This activist policy was continued by his successor YS Rajasekhara Reddy of the Congress who won the elections in 2004. YSR's entire focus was on the upliftment of the rural population. He spent the colossal sum of Rs 50,000 crores in setting up new irrigation schemes and improving the existing ones over a period of five years.
Slowly the peasants became Kulaks and benefited from State sponsored subsidies like free power, land allotments, heavily subsidised housing schemes, scholarships, free emergency ambulance service, very low cost Group Health Insurance Scheme (Arogyasri) - where the costs of treatment in any private hospital for any serious ailment was fully reimbursed to the poor.
The oxygen of the Maoists got turned off, as here was a government which was totally focused on rural development and upliftment of the poor classes, even though urban development and industrial sectors were gravely neglected compared to the previous Telugu Desam government. But at no time was security ever neglected.
The Central funding components could be tapped to the fullest extent for various schemes, and this helped the State to usher in even larger budgets. Andhra Pradesh today has the largest state budget in India, even bigger than that of Bangladesh.
Image: Paramilitary soldiers patrol during "Operation Green Hunt" near the jungles of Lathehar in Jharkhand. (Photograph copyright AFP)