The Congress's missteps in Andhra Pradesh

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 26, 2014 07:16 hrs

Once N Chandrababu Naidu was the darling of the media for the way he handled Andhra Pradesh. His successor YSR Reddy also got good press and was seen as a stable administrator.

There didn’t seem much wrong with Andhra Pradesh at that time and it had a very bright future.

But after YSR’s untimely demise, the Congress has been making one error after another.

Error 1: Playing around with the CM’s post.

YSR’s son Jaganmohan Reddy emerged as the most popular choice for CM after YSR’s death but the Congress refused to play ball at that time saying “My dynasty is better than your dynasty”. Jagan’s supporters were not impressed and thus began the Congress slide in AP.

They installed Konijeti Rosaiah and then within a year replaced him with Kiran Kumar Reddy. The Congress high command likes playing musical chairs with their CMs. Kiran Kumar ultimately turned against his own party over the Telangana issue.

Error 2: Arrest your main rival.

The Section 66A and Anna Hazare arrests all backfired. The same thing happened with Jagan’s arrest. Thanks to that he generated a huge amount of sympathy in Andhra and his party, the YSR Congress, swept the by-polls immediately after he was arrested.

They ultimately had to release Jagan and his party may well emerge as the biggest party in the 2014 elections.

Error 3: Introduce a vague Bill.

While India has been getting many new States since Independence, the Telangana one has to be the most botched one in recent times. The people of the region were promised the State in 2009 and then in December 2012, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde promised it in just one month.

When the deadline was missed, the people of Telangana went ballistic and the agitations and violence started. The bill was finally cleared by the Congress Working Committee in July 2013 and the Cabinet in December the same year.

The problem was that it was a vague bill and there was no clarity on the nitty gritties and the future of Hyderabad at that time was extremely uncertain.
There were also reports that they were considering something called Rayaltelangana and the Congress was clearly confused over the whole issue.

Error 4: Let the violence roll.

Andhra Pradesh has probably been a fit case for President’s Rule in the last year but you won’t find the Congress dismissing its own government. Agitations. Bandhs. Strikes. Violence has been sporadically occurring all over the State.

Government offices have been paralyzed and educational institutions severely affected while businesses have been looking to move out of the State. In a shocking show of no-confidence in Congress President Sonia Gandhi, statues of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty were attacked all over the State.

Error 5: Shelve all vision.

It takes years for a State to build up its resources and take development to the next level. We can see in India in many states where it all falls apart overnight. That is exactly what has happened in Andhra Pradesh.

Recently all long-term vision has been kicked out of the State and it is difficult to predict the future of Andhra Pradesh. In the end the people will be the biggest sufferers. Had the decision for Telangana been decisive and quick, then we could have been rebuilding two States right now.

Nobody knows how long this whole issue will drag on.

Error 6: Fail to have your own people aboard.

While the Congress has totally gone against the wishes of the people after being elected in the past, this time it reached a new low when it went against its own MPs and MLAs.

In New Delhi Congress MPs created a ruckus in the house and one even whipped himself with a rope! The ultimate low was these MPs trying to move a no-confidence motion against their own government.

And in Hyderabad Congress MLAs defeated the Telangana motion by voice vote!

This has to be one of the most dictatorial moves by the Congress High Command.

Post script…

While the Centre has finally cleared their latest Telangana draft with Hyderabad as the joint capital, it is anyone’s guess when a Chief Minister of Telangana will finally be sworn in.

And then God only knows when the two States will get back on the track of development and good governance.

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.