Vaasthu or waste-oo?
Dasu Kesava Rao
Two arch enemies, Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhara Rao and Nara Chandrababu Naidu, have been at logger heads for nearly a decade and a half, never missing an opportunity for a fling at each other. Telangana state, the fiery bone of contention between them, has been settled, but the tempers continue to run high.
The good news, however, is vaasthu seems to play cupid and drive the feuding former colleagues into each other’s embrace, figuratively that is to say. In a rare show of magnanimity, KCR has complimented Chandrababu on selecting a vaasthu-savvy site, Tulluru, for the capital city of Andhra Pradesh. In a spirit of you-pat- my-back, I-pat-yours spirit, Chandrababu is believed to have observed that KCR is spot-on about the terribly bad vaasthu of the Secretariat.
We will turn the spotlight on KCR garu and not Chandrababu because the former is in the centre of a raging storm over the decision to build a new Secretariat complex in Erragadda where the Government Chest hospital stands.
No matter what the opposition, the experts and the stake-holders have to say, our Chief Minister garu seems determined to go ahead with the plan, like the pampered wife who tells her husband ‘I have made up my mind. Don’t confuse me with facts.’ KCR wants to move to a brand new Secretariat because the present one suffers from serious vaasthu flaws. Several ambitious projects or schemes taken up by successive Governments have not taken off due to these vaasthu aberrations. He cannot afford, therefore, to allow his grandiose plan for a ‘Bangaru Telangana’ to go awry on this score. The shrill criticism against him is as much about the fate of the heritage building housing the hospital as about abandoning the ill-starred Secretariat. While the hospital staff strongly opposes the move to shift it, there are others like conservationists and heritage buffs who worry about the impending demolition of the building built by the Nizam for his TB-afflicted daughter’s treatment.
KCR unfazed by criticism
The Chief Minister is not amused by the concerns. Government will go as per the norms governing heritage structures. But heritage for the sake of heritage is not acceptable. Land is as much a heritage as the structures that come up on it. Should we not touch it for that reason, the media quotes him as arguing.
It is interesting to see how beliefs, superstitious or otherwise, hold in their vice-like grip believers, particularly those in positions of power. Soon after becoming the Chief Minister in 1978, Marri Channa Reddy had an entrance to the Legislative Assembly building constructed. That, however, did not help much. The man who led the Congress (I) to power with an impressive majority was in the hot seat for barely two years, three others serving the rest of the term. N.T. Rama Rao, when he first became Chief Minister in January 1983, chose to continue in the new block of the Secretariat held by his predecessor K. Vijayabhaskar Reddy. But after he returned to power with a huge majority in December 1994, he switched to the decades two-storeyed building occupied by distant predecessors like Kasu Brahmananda Reddy, P.V. Narasimha Rao and J. Vengala Rao. This did not work out either as he was upstaged by son-in-law Chandrababu Naidu in barely nine months.
There are other superstitions that govern the actions of the chief ministers and ministers. It was believed until the Eighties that a chief minister visiting Adilabad was doomed to return to the pavilion with bowed head sooner or later. Many leaders would not touch the ‘God-forsaken’ place with a barge pole until NTR broke the jinx. Far from shying away, he took a special fancy for the district and vowed to make it ‘aadarsa zilla’ (model district). He pumped in a lot of funds for the purpose. Similar jinx was attached to Gargeyapuram near in Kurnool. Leaders keep a respectful distance from the village. It is also said that DMK chief M. Karunanidhi avoids air travel as much as he can help.
I hold no brief for vaasthu baiters or followers. The question is: should leaders squander public money just to satisfy personal or party whims? Surely construction of a super secretariat by demolishing a historic building or garlanding the Hussain sagar lake with high-rise buildings can wait until more mundane and pressings needs of the people like drinking water and electricity supply are met and the swine flu outbreak contained effectively.