Rahul Promises SCS For AP, Blames Naidu, Modi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had blamed AP CM Naidu and PM Modi for betraying people by going back on their election promise to give Special Category Status to the State. He said that the next government led by Congress would give SCS on priority.

Guntur: AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi had promised that the next government headed by the Congress would grant Special Category Status (SCS) to Andhra Pradesh on priority. He blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu for betraying people by going back on the SCS, a promise that was made by the two parties during the last elections at Tirupati. He also found fault with the BJP-TDP combine for going back on the SCS promise that was made by the then Prime Minister on the floor of Parliament, the temple of Democracy.

He wondered how Prime Minister Modi had gone back on the promise which he had made at Tirupati, the abode of Lord Balaji in the holy town. He also alleged that Modi who claims to be the protector and champion of Hindu faith had even betrayed the people in the very presence of Lord Balaji.

He also critcised Chandrababu Naidu for not allowing the Central government to construct the Polavaram project. He alleged that Naidu was making huge money from the funds that are flowing from the Center in the name of Polavaram.

Uttar Pradesh former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, CPI secretary general S Sudhakar Reddy, senior leaders Sharad Yadav, DMK leader Elangovan, RJD leader Jayaprakash Yadav, CPI leader D Raja and others spoke emphasizing the need to fulfill a promise that was made to the people in Parliament and during the elections. They said that they would stand by the people of AP in their fight for the SCS till the demand is fulfilled.

APCC president N Raghuveera Reddy who took the initiative to organize the meet thanked people for their support. Former Union Minister J D Seelam read out the messages of CPM leader Sitaram Yechuri, NCP leader Sharad Pawar, TMC leader Mamata Benerji, National Conference leader Farooq Abdulla and others who have extended support to the AP’s demand for the SCS.

Interestingly, Jana Sena president Pawan Kalyan, too had tweeted extending support to the Congress-sponsored meeting for the SCS.

Meanwhile, the TDP leaders in the State held protests holding black flags opposing the visit of Rahul Gandhi to the State.

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Chandrababu Sets April 2 For Cabinet Reshuffle

TDP’s 2019 election cabinet to be led by Lokesh

Dara Gopi

Amaravati: Telugu Desam Party supremo and Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had finally zeroed in on having his Cabinet reshuffle on April 2. Though it was initially planned to have the reshuffle either on April 6 or 9, Chandrababu Naidu had finally advanced the date and fixed it for April 2. The new Ministers would take oath in the new Assembly complex area at Velagapudi with Governor E S L Narasimhan flying down from Hyderabad.

Chandrababu Naidu’s son and TDP’s national general secretary Nara Lokesh, who was elected as MLC recently and tipped for a Cabinet Minister is set to be projected as the leader of the Cabinet that would take the TDP for the 2019 general elections. Sources in the TDP say that Lokesh would have an important portfolio that would give him a chance to have control over both the rural and urban populations.

The other sure member to enter the Cabinet is Bhuma Akhila Priya, who had defected to the TDP from YSR Congress along with her father late Bhuma Nagi Reddy. Besides the defectors, another sure name to enter the cabinet is the president of the TDP in the State, K Kalavenkata Rao.

The possible names that would be shown the exit door included that of K Mrinalini, Peethala Sujatha, Ravela Kishore Babu, Bojjala Gopalakrishna Reddy and Kollu Ravindra. Rumors are also doing rounds about the change of deputy chief minister N Chinarajappa who is tipped for the party’s AP unit president in the place of Kalavenkata Rao. Similarly, Minister for Urban Development P Narayana is also said to be dropped from the Cabinet and would be made chairman of the AP Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA), which is now headed by Chief Minister himself.

Besides inclusions and deletions, the Chief Minister is planning to make changes to the portfolios of some of the Ministers with whose performance he is not happy.

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Cash For Vote Case Rocks AP Assembly

DARA GOPI

Amaravati: The infamous “Cash for Vote” case in which AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is co-accused rocked the Assembly on Friday. The Opposition YSR Congress served an adjournment motion on the day seeking permission to debate the case. However, Speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao rejected the adjournment motion leading to commotion.

The Opposition YSR Congress insisted on the debate while the ruling party members countered the claims and turned down that there was no need for AP Assembly to discuss the issue as it is connected to a different State. While some members of the ruling party said there was no need for discussion on the case, Ministers Yanamala Ramakrishnudu and K Atchennaidu wanted Leader of Opposition Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy to make his stand clear on the challenge thrown by Minister for Agriculture Prathipati Pulla Rao to prove the charges against him.

It may be recalled that Jagan Mohan Reddy alleged that Minister Pulla Rao’s wife had purchased AgriGold lands, which Pulla Rao refuted and said he was ready to quit the politics if the charges are proved. Ministers Yanamala Ramakrishnudu and Atchannaidu wanted Jagan Mohan Reddy to respond to the challenge first before speaking on any subject. Speaker Sivaprasada Rao too insisted on Jagan Mohan Reddy clear his stand on the challenge before speaking on any subject in the House.

When the Opposition tried to insist on discussion on the AgriGold issue, the ruling party rejected it and insisted on Jagan Mohan Reddy accepting the challenge by Minister Pulla Rao to quit politics if the charges against the Minister are not proved. The Speaker did not give a chance to the Leader of Opposition without accepting the challenge.

At this point, as the Opposition members continued to protest, the Speaker adjourned the House for 10 minutes.

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AP investment boost throws a fresh land challenge to CM

TALKING POINT

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Madhusudhana Rao S

There is every reason for Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister to smile self-indulgently after the end of the second Partnership Summit in Visakhapatnam. The two-day meet organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry for the second time in the port city has brought together some of the top industrial giants in India and from abroad. Also held simultaneously on January 27 and 28 was Sunrise Andhra Pradesh Investment Meet to facilitate more personal and face-to-face discussions with the State government officials and ministers and private players.

If we go by the astronomical figures of investment that is said to have been promised by Indian and international companies, and if the pledges translate into actions  sooner or later, Andhra Pradesh would see a radical transformation  of  its profile from  being the rice bowl of India to an industrial and manufacturing hub. 

The AP Government is reported to have signed 665 preliminary agreements (MoUs) worth over Rs 10 lakh crores at the summit for setting up various industries with potential to generate more than 23 lakh jobs in the State.

Industry-wise, the food processing sector has netted the highest number of 177 MoUs, followed by the industrial sector with 91 and the AP Capital Region Development Authority 62. Together, they account for nearly 700,000 crores, with the Economic Development Council getting half that promised investment. In fact, a careful look at the investment promises made at the summit reveals a substantial flow is from the Government of India and public sector units. Most of the forthcoming investment is directed towards developing infrastructure like roads, ports and airports. Among other investment proposals were, mega projects like an oil refinery in Kakinada, Vizag-Kakinada petro corridor, industrial corridors and Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

The investors’ interest in Andhra Pradesh is understandable. Until the united Telugu State was bifurcated in 2014, Hyderabad and its surroundings had been growth areas for IT, manufacturing, pharma and ancillary industries. The city is also the nerve centre for a number of R&D units in aeronautics, space, nuclear and missile technologies which have spawned hundreds of small units that manufacture components for the civil and military industrial establishments. To boot, Hyderabad can boast of a world-class airport, excellent rail and road connectivity. Cosmopolitan character of twin cities, tolerable weather and plenty of non-farm land to set up industries are other natural advantages Telangana has after the bifurcation.

On the other hand, the residual Telugu State is hamstrung on all these counts. The main problem is land, followed by infrastructure. AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s struggle to get thousands of acres of fertile land in Krishna Delta to build a brand new world-class capital city is well known. Land acquisition under the land pooling scheme and the alleged unfulfilled promises and irregularities in distribution of land plots to farmers who surrendered their lands to the government in the Capital Region are some of the issues for the Opposition to attack the TDP government’s policies in the State Legislature and outside of it.

In other words, land is the critical criterion for Andhra Pradesh’s industrial development. Strangely –and ironically – none has factored in this issue while looking at the bright prospects of pumping lakhs of crores of rupees  into various industrial projects. Nobody has calculated the cost of compensation to be given to farmers and others whose lands are to be acquired and how much time does it take.

For example, Union Minister for Transport Nitin Gadkari had promised Rs 1 lakh crores for road networks in the State, particularly linking Amaravati. He had also promised Rs 20,000 crores for the two coastal economic zones at the Vizag meet. Similarly, GMR Infra is eyeing an investment of Rs 47,000 crores in Kakinada SEZ. Likewise, every district in Andhra and Rayalaseema regions is expected to have small, medium and mega industries.

While it may not be difficult to acquire non-agricultural land in arid and semi-arid areas under an attractive compensation package, getting swathes of land for giant industries can prove a herculean task. In fact, when a mega industry is set up, several ancillary units need to come up in tandem to support the major industry. When we take their land needs, including housing, roads, schools, recreation grounds, etc. the land requirement will expand exponentially. If the State government glosses over these taken-for-granted developmental issues in its over-enthusiasm to industrialize Andhra Pradesh as quickly as possible, the government may turn the rich green lands into hundreds of slums.

Of course, there is no guarantee that all the MoUs signed at the Partnership Summit and the Sunrise Andhra Pradesh Investment Meet would result in setting up factories all over the State. Generally, the realization rate is around 50 per cent. At the last Partnership Summit, the total number of committed projects was 328 with a potential to employ nearly ten lakh people. Of the committed projects, only 38 units have gone into production while six are on trial run, 16 had their machinery erected, 29 have begun civil work, 13 have got approvals and eight have been allotted land. These figures add up to 110. That means only one-third of committed projects have some semblance of taking off the ground. If that is any indication, AP could hope to see around 200 projects out of 665 committed taking shape in the next few years. Even that many industrial units can change AP’s landscape forever. Surely, in the coming days, nature lovers and farmers will be pitted against the government as the preliminary deals move to blueprint stage.

Industry is essential to create jobs but it should not destroy the environment and rob thousands of small farmers of their source of income and make them live at the mercy of officials and local political leaders.

Chandrababu’s efforts and campaign to turn Andhra Pradesh as No 1 State in the country are welcome and should be lauded. But in his eagerness to meet all the targets he set for himself and the government before the completion of his first term, he should not have a blinkered view of massive industrialization in a predominant agrarian State. The challenge before him is balancing farmers’ interests and industrialization to create jobs for a generation of aspirational youth. That means the green campaign should be part and parcel of the Chief Minister’s industrial drive.

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Vamsadhara incident: Chandrababu castigates party leaders, officials

Dara Gopi

Amaravati: Chief Minister and Telugu Desam president N Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday censured the party leaders and the officials of Srikakulam district for not smelling the violent incident occurred at the Vamsadhara project site early this week where the project oustees turned violent.

He used strong words to castigate the leaders and the district officials for their failure and said that their failure had earned bad name for the government. He said he was working round the clock to develop the State and transfer those benefits to the party for the next elections and regretted that the leaders and the officials were enjoying the time at the cost of his hard work.

He said that the elected representatives, ministers and office bearers of the party from Srikakulam, besides officials have failed to assess the violent mood of the people. “How is that you are not able to smell it until the situation went out of control?” he asked the party leaders at the party State level coordination committee meeting held here on Wednesday. He blamed the leaders for growing indiscipline in the party and regretted that the leaders, including the ministers, were not taking any interest to ensure that the government work is generating positive response in the people.

The Chief Minister also found fault with the officials from the district for not paying compensation to the people. “When the GO (relating to payment of compensation) was released in June, how is that no action has been taken on that so far?” he asked. He wanted to know if the officials were sleeping when he was working hard.

Chandrababu Naidu also expressed his displeasure over the differences between Minister Ravela Kishore Babu and Guntur ZP chairperson Jani Moon. “Don’t you people know the discipline that is followed in the party? Have not spent even a single day to know the importance of discipline followed in the party?” he asked the minister.

The TDP chief also took a dig at the party leaders and the ministers for their failure to counter the Opposition criticism on Special Category Status and the Kapu movement led by Mudragada Padmanabham. He also questioned the leaders for their failure to counter the criticism of Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan and advised them to update themselves on the Opposition’s criticism of the government and counter it strongly.

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Bankers rap AP CM for ‘thoughtless remarks’

Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh–Telangana States Regional Rural Banks Employees Association has taken strong exception to the remarks made by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu that the bank staff are negligent and non-cooperative.

In a press note here, the Association’s general secretary S Venkateswar Reddy said they were astonished at the remarks passed by Naidu against the bankers.  “The thoughtless remarks are not befitting of his stature and are demoralizing the sincere workforce of banks in the present context of financial crisis.  Rather it is the total failure of the governments in arranging supply of cash to the bankers by pursuing with the RBI and the Central Government.   They can’t blame the bankers to cover up their lapses and fool the people”, he said.  He also demanded the Chief Minister to withdraw his demoralizing comments and extend total support to the banks in arranging cash from RBI to meet the needs of people. 

“We hope such de-motivating comments do not recur compelling us to go on an agitation path in safeguarding morale of our employees”, the bankers Association official added. (NSS)

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