Leading Up The Garden Path, Naidu’s Style
We are the model for development to the country. After a while, we will become an ideal to the world itself. Amaravati will resemble Singapore. If not Singapore, it will look like Istambul. Otherwise, it will glitter like Shanghai. The State will have bullet trains, cable cars, and airports in every district, and then, what will we lack! Alluring statements indeed! The very words dazzle us, fill our stomachs. We will be travelling in the dream world. Whenever Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu goes on a foreign visit, or when a foreign delegation comes to the State, he will take us on a colourful journey. When we wake up from the glittering dream, we are back in the black and white world. But the question is, how long can we while away time dreaming?
Earlier, when he was the Chief Minister of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu publicised that he was the first CEO of the State. Whenever he went on a foreign tour, he claimed that he brought thousands and lakhs of crores of investments to the State. That story ended. The united Andhra Pradesh of 23 districts has been reduced to 13 districts now. However, his statements did not change. They cross all the limits of rationality. Despite the State getting shrunk, his statements are crossing all the permissible limits.
Let us not discuss why and how the State was bifurcated. But three years passed after that. What matters is to what extent we achieved development. That is a big question bothering everyone. The statistics in the statements are different from statistics that reflect reality. Though the rulers know the fact, for the sake of government’s survival they deceive people with colourful lies.
Whenever on a foreign tour, it has become a habit to the Chief Minister to hold discussions with local, NRI industrialists and CEOs of multinational companies and give statements that all those companies are going to invest in the State. Sure, it is necessary to go to foreign countries, it is essential to attract industrialists and multinational companies. Nobody would deny it; development should take place in every possible way. So, all the ways and means should be explored in the process. For that, one can go to foreign countries scores of times. However, it is important to ponder whether they achieved intended results for which they have spent public funds. If these foreign tours become pleasure trips for the delegation that accompanies the Chief Minister, is it not a loss to the State?
With the recent America tour, Chandrababu Naidu as Chief Minister made twelve foreign trips in the last three years. Huge delegation with important people are also touring those countries spending public money. Everyone knows who is in the delegation every time the Chief Minister embarked on a foreign journey. What did those people achieve? How many multinational companies opened their branches in the districts? How many youths of our State are given employment in those companies? At what percent did the production grow? What is the rate of development? How much did it increase? How far was poverty alleviated? If all the chief minister’s foreign tours were a success, he has to answer all these questions.
12 visits in 3 years
While he toured Switzerland and Davos thrice in three years, he visited ten countries once. He went to America for the first time after he became chief minister. Only Naidu got the credit for going on 12 foreign tours in just three years. No other chief minister in the country could break this record. After Prime Minister Modi, it is only Naidu that holds such record. However, the ambit of prime minister is different and the issues that he has to deal with are more than a chief minister has to do. The chief minister is limited to the State. But, it is a wonder that Naidu is embarking on foreign tours like a prime minister.
The cost of every tour is in crores. It has become a routine to give an impression that the more luxurious the trip is, the more developed the State becomes. Other chief ministers use regular aero planes whenever they go to Delhi or to a foreign country. But, Naidu and his delegation go on special flights. If Naidu as chief minister can utilise the flights generally used by President, Vice President and prime minister- it gives an impression that the State he is representing is developed.
Spending people’s money for the sake of tours; instead of on developmental programmes, only points out to his extravagance.
For example, Naidu went to Davos International Economic Forum meet in early January this year. This is the third time that he attended the meeting as a CM. Earlier he attended it as Leader of Opposition. However, there were allegations that though he did not receive any official invitation for the January meeting, he attended it spending public money, and had shown his private tour as official.
After bifurcation, as the chief minister of Navyandhra, Naidu in 2014 November went to Singapore. According to the statement, he made as part of his tour, the master plan of capital city should be prepared by Singapore government free of cost. But what happened? The Singapore government entrusted the job to a company called Surbana, the State government had to pay Rs15 crore to the company for preparing the plan. That costly is the discrepancy between the statement he made and ground reality.
Later, Naidu’s delegation toured Japan. In that context, there was news in the media that the State government had signed six crucial agreements with private companies there. But, of them how many are honoured, no one knows.
After these two, Naidu’s team went to London in March, 2015. He announced that 22 companies came forward for constructing smart cities in the State. And also to attract investments from London, he announced establishing Amaravati office there. However, which company came forward for construction of smart cities and which of the commitments materialised is a big secret.
After London trip, Naidu and his delegation toured Singapore in September, 2015. The tour was meant to give the lands acquired from the farmers for construction of new capital to Singapore companies in accordance with Swiss Challenge method. Everyone knows how controversial the Swiss challenge method has become.
Later in January 2016, he went to Davos, after that in June to China and in July to Russia. There was news that agreements were made to the tune of 53 thousand crores when Naidu was on China tour. But, there was no news about how many of them got materialised. During his Russia tour, in Kazakhstan, he signed two agreements. But sources say that no one knows what happened later.
The official estimate is that around Rs 150 crore was spent on his foreign tours. But, one does not know if he brought at least equal amount of investments to the State.
All his foreign tours are to deceive people. Even the official sources are murmuring that not even ten percent of one lakh crore investments announced reached the State. Though he announced that China and Japan companies have expressed their interest in establishing five thousand MW Solar Power Station, not even foundation stone ceremony took place. Although he invited Chinese, they seem to have not heeded to his proposal. He also talked about constructing of Beijing type railway stations and Shanghai model shopping malls in AP. He said many more things. Whichever country he visited, he stated that he will change AP like that country. He assured that all the investments from that country will flow into AP. When on Japan tour, he told people that big companies like Fuji electric, Zaika, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo are coming to AP and that we will achieve the top position not only in the country but also in the world. But what is the fact? Did any of the companies come to AP? Are they thinking of coming at all? The chief minister has to answer.
Not only did he go on twelve foreign tours in three years, he also organised Partnership Summits at Vizag in 2016, 2017. He spent crores for organising them. But, the statistics reveal that they did not yield desired results. In the first Partnership Summit held in 2016 January, it was a fact that 361 agreements were made, but, four lakh crore investments did not come as claimed by the government. He also said that 10 lakh jobs will be created because of that. But, nothing happened. In the second Partnership Summit, he said that 665 agreements were signed and 22 lakh jobs will be created. How can anyone trust his words when nothing happened after the first summit?
Not only Naidu’s delegation, a number of official delegations on the pretext of changing or finalising Amaravati designs are touring foreign countries. This has become a routine in these three years. While the State is suffering, the foreign jaunts by official delegations that are favoured by CM are becoming controversial. With the encouragement of the Chief Minister, the estimate is that the favoured senior officers visited 30 countries.
One can come up with as many plans as one needs to develop the State, by utilising the available resources efficiently is important. But, touring foreign countries for the sake of investments that are not assured is becoming controversial.
There was news that the chief minister’s delegation made agreements with many companies during their America visit. There was also news that Naidu extended an invitation to Franklin Templeton to expand Fin Tech, Data centres and processing sectors. There was also news about discussions that Naidu held with Cisco and other software technology companies. However, doubt lingers about how far the agreements will materialise. Meanwhile, the public money will be spent uninterruptedly.
Hence, Naidu’s government must release a white paper before the end of each financial year about the foreign tours they undertook in a year and the benefits that accrued to the State. This must become a tradition.