Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The poster boy's latest debacle

Why Chandrababu Naidu suffered a crushing defeat at the hustings again? Because "his legacy is still fresh in the minds of people. As is their anger", writes P. Sainath, in an excellent piece in today's The Hindu.

The score was thus:

    Winning more than twice the number of wards the Telugu Desam did, the Congress takes the post of chairperson in 75 of 96 municipalities. It won an absolute majority in 68. The TDP managed that in just six. Of the remaining 22 that are `hung' more will go the Congress way as the smoke clears.
That too when the incumbent Congress govt of AP has had more than its share of follies in the past year, says Sainath. "Who will Mr. Naidu (and user-friendly columnists) blame this time?" After the 2004 ignominious rout, Naidu had a few explanations:
  • alliance with the communal BJP, and the Gujarat pogrom.
  • The Maoists helped the Congress party.
  • the Congress alliance with the TRS, the then newly formed party demanding the separate state of Telengana.
Sainath examines these points one by one. This time around, there was no alliance with the BJP. Maoists are fighting the Congress. The Congress had no alliance with the TRS. Even with the Left, who too have done well, the Congress had fights in certain places. So this time, Naidu, "the messiah of hi-tech", has blamed the Electronic Voting Machines!

Naidu's party had managed to win just one out of the 13 assembly seats of Cyberabad in 2004. This time, his share of the urban vote dropped a further three per cent. What's common in the successive defeats is that the hi-tech messiah was beaten across the spectrum: Rural, urban, city, town, Telangana, Rayalaseema, and coastal Andhra. "The TDP can run, but it can't hide."

Sainath righly points out that this is yet another chance to learn something about how people view the pro-rich, anti-poor measures that pass for `reforms' in this country.

21 Comments:

At 12:02 AM, Anonymous charu said...

yes, Naidu's legacy and all that - but YSR has nothing to speak of - no vision, no legacy he will leave behind, no pro anything... wonder where AP is headed - and the telengana madness issue always hanging in the air...

 
At 1:05 AM, Anonymous Anand said...

You're right. Sainath also makes the point that the YSR rule for a year wasn't impressive at all. Still people en masse voted for his leadership. That shows how angry they still are about Naidu's decade long misrule.

Initially I had thought that solving the Naxal "problem" forever would be the YSR legacy. It looked plausible.

 
At 2:25 AM, Blogger Anirudh Karnick said...

YSR is not a bad guy, just foolish. Good post.

 
At 2:32 AM, Blogger kuffir said...

first, a few corrections : there is no evidence to support the argument that the maoists are fighting the congress, the maoists move in much more devious ways : even during the general elections they didn't make any open announcements about supporting the congress...the fatwas, which are more authentic expressions of maoist intent, are released at the local level.. the maoists haven't yet decided whether to persuade people in their areas of influence to vote against the congress at the hustings or not..that would in a way help the tdp and naidu, who they perceive, like you, as the napoleon of reform.
it surprises me that mr.sainath feels the need to gloat like a child about congress winning twice the number of seats as the congress..the congress wasn't expected to lose anyway..and there have always been more committed congressmen than tdp workers in the state..and the congress had always done well in the urban areas,even during the days of tdp rule. and the arithmetic of the wards is vastly different from that of general elections. and so are the issues involved.
the stuff about naidu blaming the evms is nonsense...i find it surprising why sainath feels the need to mention that out-of-context
detail ?
about sweeping generalisations about reforms - can't the left ever talk logic without resorting to catchy slogans ? after having seen so many elections in the course of his career, i wish sainath would learn to be a little more patient about jumping to the smartest conclusions about their results before studying them fully..
i won't digress here into the reform debate but i'd like to add here a few often overlooked details about the reformer naidu :
1. in the 99 and 20004 elections naidu point blank refused to announce free power for the farmers whereas that populist sop was a major plank of the congress during both elections. it would have been very tempting for him to do so.. but he didn't.
2.naidu never expressed any qualms about dealing with the world bank.the congress did. during both elections. the left did.
the congress govt now works overtime to please the wb. so do the left in states they rule. except they will pose sanctimoniously that they don't ask for 'structural adjustment' loans..
3.after the experiment with prohibition, naidu stopped making any tall and blatantly false promises..actually he never made any tall promises at all during the 99 elections, except good governance..the congress promised free power and is now distributing whatever extra capacity that was added during the naidu rule..
4. unpopular policies such as imposing nominal user charges on patients visiting state-run hospitals costed naidu a lot in terms of image..but the hospitals worked. one of the congress' major promises was to scrap them..it scrapped them, now one and half years after winning the elections the congress hasn,t released any substantial compensatory funds to make up for the loss of user charges..in many hospitals and phcs you wouldn't find any basic consumables such as spirit and cotton..there are clinics which have been using the same syringes for the last seven months.
5.the one reason why the congress won the general elections across the three regions was its promise to start and complete irrigation projects worth 46,000 crores to cover 66 lakh hectares of land. to finance them it dramatically said it would 'beg, borrow or steal'..one and a half years after elections the question of finances still haunts it..it had accused naidu of leading the state into a debt trap..its ridiculous promises would definitely lead the state into both a debt trap and into the unenviable position of being saddled with useless, unfinished dams and barrages. please understand the absurdity of this ridiculous claim of irrigating 66 lakh hectares ; the central govt had announced its own plans to build facilities for irrigating 1 crore hectares. would 66% of these funds be directed to the one state of cash-strapped a.p ? if the centre has such modest goals, how is one supposed to understand the state's boasts ? these are the kind of promises naidu always kept away from.
6.the power sector reforms were one of the chief reform( actually, they were iniated more out of compulsion of saving the seb) acts that the left and the congress used to demonise naidu. four-five years ago the left led a major rally opposing
tariff hike in the state capital. a few people died in the firing that followed and the left, in its time-tested fashion, started building a legend out of the incident and martyrs of the poor, 'professional, rallyists
who died..after coming to power the congress built a memorial to those who died and raised the tariff again. this time the left led no rally and also conveniently forgot that the congress had promised to roll back the hike that naidu had imposed.
these are some observations i made after(i had not really thought on these lines much before) the last general elections - based on them i reached a startling conclusion : that the schemer, the manipulator, the ...pro-rich reformer (ugh) naidu was actually more honest and straightforward with the poor than the left and the congress.

 
At 3:37 AM, Anonymous Anand said...

Kuffir,

actually he never made any tall promises at all during the 99 elections ...

Are you sure? Have a look at this. How many of those promises did he implement? How many, did he at least try to implement?

 
At 7:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

By Sainath's logic, people in West Bengal must be enjoying three decades of golden age. Otherwise, what explains the continued electoral victories of the Left Front. The same in Bihar until the recent election.

I do wish that people like Sainath would be specific about which policies since liberalization that have really been ANTI-poor. I cant think of any. If removing licensing (which is the single-most important act of liberalization) and import controls has somehow hurt the poor, I am perhaps too dumb to see how. Ranting against neo-liberal economics in the Indian context shows that Sainath is borrowing jargon from the liberal left in the West without understanding its implication for the Indian context.

I have had professors here (who I admire) in the US, who are committed leftists. They fight for minimum wage. One of them, an expert on latin america, is virulently anti IMF (as I am, although I am not a leftist). But even he says that he cannot understand how any of the liberalization policies that India has carried out could be detrimental to the poor. In the Latin American context, neo-liberal policies have meant extremely tight fiscal policies and tight monetary policies, especially when the going got tough (that was the gist of Stiglizt's critique). Nothing of that sort has happened in India. If anything, governemnt spending and deficits have remained very high. Mind you, this is NOT because we are spending more on defense and cutting taxes on the rich.

If a section of people (english-educated middle class) in India have benefited enormously in the last 15 years while the poor have remained poor (the case that the poor have become poorer has few data or supporters outside the extreme left), it is not because the government is giving them freebees. It is because the government has removed the shackles fortuitously at a time when the world has started discovering the human capital base in India. The government could of course put a stop to all this quickly. It would not help the poor, but would bring the middle class closer to them. Perhaps that would make them happy. I call that politics of envy.

 
At 9:10 PM, Blogger kuffir said...

'Are you sure? Have a look at this. How many of those promises did he implement? How many, did he at least try to implement?'


i'm glad you raised this issue. let's see what naidu did:
about basic needs- ysr would be the first person to tell
you that is precisely what naidu did - build roads, water
tanks, clinics, toilets, schools etc., all cosmetic assets( talcum powder
and facial creams was the colorful phrase he used at one election
rally after another) unlike the real assets he'd in mind
-irrigation projects. naidu reinvented the term 'basic
infrastructure' for a.p.,

about employment generation - yes, naidu gave a new direction
to tourism making it one of the major thrust areas of his
govt..he went on to create basic assets in places identified as
having the most potential..he initiated the setting up of
textile parks, food processing parks, gem & jewellery parks etc.,

'DWACRA, CMEY groups, Water
Users Association,Watershed development Committees, VSSs, Vidya Committees,
Mothers Committees, Village ST Development Committees.'
yes, naidu installed all the committees listed above..and his
special emphasis on 'dwacra' groups is well known- he
was the prime mover behind the popularisation, promotion and
formation of around 5 lakh women's self-help groups, more than
in any other state in the country (and the world, according to some).
these groups were his pride- he showed them to all visiting
dignitaries like clinton etc., yyou wouldn't believe it, but
naidu was one of the biggest votaries of women's empowerment
in the country.
naidu brought in 5000 crores worth of grain for the infamous
'food for work' programme in the state to provide part-time
employment in drought affected areas( which covered most of
the state). it's another matter he himself admitted, honestly,
that there were around 15-20 % leakages in the programme.
would you consider 5000 crores enough of an effort to create,
at least, part-time employment ?

about infrastructure - yes, naidu had increased the total
power generating capacity in the state from around 4000 mw to
10000 mw. he totally revamped the distribution infrastucture
and invested hugely in it. ysr's free power travels to villages
on the transmission lines he laid and strengthened, and through
substations and transformers he installed. the state capital
which used to reel under power cuts ten years ago, has been
almost totally free of them for the entire period of his rule
and even now. he formulated plans plans for raising the total
capacity to 20000mw by 2010.
major irrigation was one area where naidu's failures have been
accentuated by the continuous drought- he brought in around
10 lakh acres under fresh ayacut according to his party.
his thrust was more on watershed development and conservation-
his govt was one of the first to take up these programmes on
a massive scale in this country..in this regard, you could
call him a visionary because even manmohan singh speaks his
language now.
yes, he initiated the plans for building a new international airport
in hyderabad and steered those plans through all the mazes and
corridors of power in delhi, got all clearances and approvals,
identified & acquired 5000 acres of land for it, entered into a tie-up
with gmr group of bangalore/malaysia for building it... and
he did this while the plans for the bangalore airport getting kicked
around all over the place and delhi/mumbai airports got delayed by
more than a decade. the foundation for the airport was laid last year,
ironically, by sonia and ysr, and i scheduled to be completed by 2007'
as planned by naidu.

about farmer welfare- yes, he set up a market intervention mechanism,
he set up rythu bazars, four years of drought didn't help in increasing
agricultural growth. yes, there is a medical college in every district now.
his imposition of user charges etc improved the day-to-day working of
hospitals, clinics etc., he built new hospitals/clinics all over the
state..including a spanking new campus for gandhi medical college in
hyderabad..

about women's welfare - naidu tried his best to bring in the women's
reservation bill..at his party level too he usually endorsed more women
candidates than congress and the left. yes he initiated a lot of measures to
bring in legislative approval women's rights. lpg connections- he
gave away around 40% of the of gas connections in the entire country !

i wouldn't want to dwell on the purely political goals mentioned in the manifesto..

when i said 'tall promises' i thought you'd understand that i meant
the kind of promises which are impossible to achieve but could play
a crucial role in influencing people's minds because their fulfillment
would be of immeasurable significance to their lives.

of the above promises i see that only the 'creation of one crore jobs'
would fall in that category..but that is a promise every
party makes during elections...pure electoral rhetoric..naidu
never tomtomed it ..unlike ysr who promised to fill the '2.5
lakh vacant positions' in the govt..and actually retrenched part-time
staff in agriculture/education departments..

what do you think now ? poster boy ? that's an unfair description..i am not much of a fan of naidu's but one needs to be a little more objective while trashing anyone.

 
At 12:03 AM, Blogger Thulasi said...

while the farmers were suiciding he was busy in discussion on the formula one track in Hyd.in his tearm world bank used andhra as an experimental land.Like they did Agrengina.

 
At 12:25 AM, Blogger Dilip D'Souza said...

Kuffir says: i reached a startling conclusion : that the schemer, the manipulator, the ...pro-rich reformer (ugh) naidu was actually more honest and straightforward with the poor than the left and the congress.

Well, I'm glad you reached that conclusion. But do understand that millions of voters in AP reached a somewhat different conclusion.

 
At 2:58 AM, Blogger Ramadoss Magesh said...

Hi Anand,

The arguments put forth by Kufir and the
Anonymous makes lot of sense..Just because
Naidu has been in the losing end with popular public elections and the fact that Naidu bashing is more fashionable with the liberal left commentators..i dont think its proper for P. Sainath and the likes(I respect Sainath and his articles a lot in general) to just ridicule Naidu..I strongly feel that he deserves a more objective and a fair treatment of his actions before trashing him..

Best regards,
Magesh

 
At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anand said...

Anonymous -- Removal of quantitative restrictions has led to dumping and hence volatility in the domestic market, right? And this did hurt the agricultural sector.

Calling this politics one of envy -- I think that was a bit harsh. Even if you are right, my hunch is that it's here to stay, and you'll have to deal with it. And contemptuous descriptions wouldn't help in that!

That said, I like to make one remark. Those who benefitted from the reforms, the English speaking middle class, could benefit precisely because of the highly subsidized education sector of the "socialist" India that trained them. It's a bit disingenuous on the part of the new upper middle class to say that they got no freebies. Perhaps it's worth asking why those who suffered under Indira Gandhi's "socialism" continue to suffer under Chandrababu Naidu kind of "reforms", and the beneficiaries then continue to benefit now.

Kuffir -- Naidu, farmers' welfare, and women empowerment? Wonder why then the farmers and empowered women deserted him at the polling booths? Perhaps their lives are more in conformity with some other stats, perhaps more believable stats?

"It's a state where millions of children are outside school. A state that has the largest number of child labourers in the country. And one where close to 90 per cent of rural workers are either illiterate or educated only up to the primary level.

Employment growth saw a drastic decline in the Naidu era. In rural Andhra Pradesh, it was 2.40 per cent per annum in the decade before him. It fell to 0.29 per cent during 1994-2000. This was a worse decline than that seen in the rest of India. The rate of growth of real wages in rural areas fell sharply in the 1990s.

What the media fondly called "one of the fastest-growing states" was really stumbling. The growth of GDP was just around 5 per cent for 1994-2001. Lowest among the southern states. Lower than the national average. Lower than what the same state had posted during 1981-91. Economists C. Mahendra Dev and C. Ravi show that "in the 1980s, A.P. was one of the top performing states in terms of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) growth. Only three states, Rajasthan, Haryana and Maharashtra, showed higher growth than A.P. in the 1980s." However, this rank sank from number four to eight in the next decade. "Seven states showed higher growth than A.P. in the 1990s." The state was overtaken by Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and West Bengal.

This was the one state in the south that showed no improvement in its Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) between the first and second National Family Health Surveys. (Those came out in the early and late 1990s.) Indeed, its IMR of 65 is slightly worse than Bihar (62) on this count.

Small farmers did badly everywhere in the country in the 1990s. But it was in Andhra Pradesh that they committed suicide in thousands. The years of hostile policy still take a toll. (The suicides continue in the weeks after Mr. Naidu's exit. And there is a Kafkaesque touch to his standing up in the state Assembly demanding a decent deal for the farmers.)

Through it all, Naidu-worship in the media only grew. With not an iota of scepticism. The media bios of Naidu called him the son of a "poor agriculturist." Or of a "small farmer." Or of a "modest farmer." How the modest farmer and his spouse came to be worth Rs. 21 crores after nine years in power is a mystery no one wants to solve. That's the figure you'll find in his poll-time declaration of assets."

When Clinton said he was a fan of Naidu, I became one too. Clinton is so charming, right? And now I'm a fan of Mulayam Singh Yadav!

Magesh -- But Sainath is not just ridiculing Naidu. He has his arguments. Convincing, at least to a few like myself. Afterall, he did real hard work before reaching his conclusions.

 
At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anand,

You said:

"Anonymous -- Removal of quantitative restrictions has led to dumping and hence volatility in the domestic market, right? And this did hurt the agricultural sector."

First of all, ORs were not removed immediately after 1991. They were largely removed only after WTO, that is 2000. BTW, food subsidies as a percentage of budgetary allocation and in absolute terms have increased rapidly in the last 15 years.

Second, going back to QRs and the pre-reform days is not a long-term solution. If that would solve the problem, then India's rural folks should have been in pretty good shape after 40 years of supposedly good policies. I am not being sarcastic here, really.


Ultimately we have to align our production and resource usuage to things that we are efficient at. So, rolling back liberalization would at best be a short-term fix. Ideally this kind of a situation should be dealt with by 1) in the short run increasing government support mechanism for farmers and 2) in the long run by creating more awareness and facilitating farmers' particpitaion in futures markets to hedge against volatility 3) facilitating the creation of cooperatives and guilds that help in 2) as well and 4) rural investment in irrigation. Now, if we have been derelict in 1) you cannot blame liberalization. If we have been derelict in 2) you cannot again blame liberalization. If we have bee derelict in 4) it is simply becasue we have run up our debt unsustainably. We could maintain high spending on rural development if only we did not pay enormous amounts to paper-pushing babus in offices doing nothing and in running loss0making PSUs. We are not going to do that of course. And I dont think Sainath would support that.

As regrads subsidised higher education, I dont support it at all in first place. It is an abomination in a country that does not provide good primary education to all. But I dont see you or Sainath or anybody who is against neo-liberal economics ever speak against that. You should be calling for an end to this.

But the middle classes would still flourish. People since my granfather's time (well before independence) have stitched together whatver they could to put their children through college, when there were no subsidies. Today, thousands send their children to private engineering colleges spending lakhs on fees despite personal hardship (I know lots of such people).

This kind of politics may well be there to stay. I havent the slightest clue. I am not contemptuous. i am just stating a fact. I believe in having an informed discussion not in a mud-slinging match.
zsjrxu

 
At 2:38 PM, Blogger kuffir said...

'Are you sure? Have a look at this. How many of those promises did he implement? How many, did he at least try to implement?'
anand: that was what you wanted to know - whether naidu had implemented or at least tried to implement any of them (the promises made in his manifesto). i think my reply my adequately answered that..and proved my earlier point that naidu was more 'honest and straightforward with the poor than the congress and the left', inasmuch he never made any tall promises.
now, if you wish to digress into a discussion on the state of the andhra pradesh economy in the nineties on the basis of a few stats, please...such a debate demands more rounded stats, more economic,socio/political background information. and i think it's pointless at this stage..because you have already decided it's naidu's fault..
some corrections again- the congress ruled the state from 89 to 1994. shove half the blame elsewhere. and naidu, according to a tehelka.com report ( i forget the date, but this was before operation westend) is worth around 2000 crores and not just 21 crores.
but how is that relevant to the question on whether he was honest with his poll promises or not ?
about more important facts : there are actually 4 million chidren in ap who do not go to school. yes, most rural workers are illiterate.
i am more worried over these facts more than whether congress wins or tdp or someone else.
these are the issues the congress and naidu should have taken seriously..i believe naidu, as the more sensible and efficient of the two, could have done a lot in improving the situation. he was definitely capable of it - but he didn't.
anand, you asked me whether, i repeat, naidu implemented or at least tried to implement his 99 poll manifesto..under the category of farmers welfare i did find that naidu had tried to implement whatever little he had promised in his party's manifesto..it's another matter that it was too little..
your question was about poll promises and not about why the farmers were killing themselves...
your latest comment is a mixture of selective data and pure vitriol directed against naidu..
do you really wish to discuss whether reforms had badly affected ap's economy ? i don't think you do. because one would need only the tiniest needle of fact to puncture your theory on reforms having had a negative impact on ap or for that matter india's..
every practising naidu-hater seems to be only too happy to bandy about the cold fact that agriculture in ap suffered severe reverses in the nineties. and then they conveniently forget to add the corollary that this could have brought down the overall growth rate significantly..
agriculture still being the largest sector, in terms of employment, wouldn't employment too have fallen drastically in line with the fall in agricultural growth ? that was naidu's handicap - twenty years of tubewell-led agriculture and four years of drought.
reforms in agriculture have been very insignificant- so don't drag in reforms here.i know it's convenient to beat reforms with as many sticks as possible- especially such sturdy emotionally charged sticks as farmers' suicides but those who oppose reforms wouldn't be doing their argument any good. one can perceive very clearly that they have not understood clearly the crisis in agriculture in ap and india at large when they try to convince us it's only a change in the direction of policy that has caused this crisis and a reversal of this new policy would bring back the good old times.
anand, when the left picks on naidu, it's not because they hate him, but only because they hate reforms and what it could do to its old bastions like the public sector, the regulatory framework etc., but when you pick on reforms,
it's not because you have complete evidence that they are bad, but because you think people like naidu and those who support reforms are somehow wrong. it's a gut feeling you nurse and it prods you to go look for any usable bit of data to substantiate the conclusions you have already reached.
.

 
At 12:31 AM, Blogger Ramadoss Magesh said...

Extremely well articulated response from Kuffir..Does both Anonymous commnets are from the same person..would like to read more of ur view points..

Kuffir--You seem to be quite knowldegable on the socio-political scenario of AP..am not very knowledgebale..i have a small question which you might help me to understand..slightly off the topic actually..

I basically come from the state of TamilNadu..a state with acute water shortage..in the last years J. Jayalaitha has been actively pursuing farmers to concentrate on crop cultivation which does not require much water..This actually is not very popular with the farmers..because of their focus all these years on water intensive-cash rich crops(The focus on water-intenisve crop cultivation in TN is criticised by many for the crisis..).. J. Jayalaitha has openly thanked Chandrababu Naidu(i dont have those links..nd it doesnt really matter for thats not the point!!)for he has been a frontruneer on inititaing such reforms in India..Did such a thing actively happen..what were the bottle necks..could u clarify or suggest some reading materials..if u have an idea on that..would extremely appreciate that..

Best regards,
Magesh

 
At 9:41 PM, Blogger Dilip D'Souza said...

Kuffir says: your latest comment is a mixture of selective data and pure vitriol directed against naidu..

Could you tell me, kuffir, where this "pure vitriol" is? I looked in Anand's latest comment but missed it. Can you point it out?

 
At 2:09 AM, Blogger kgroupie said...

I don't know why Naidu lost, but I can tell you one thing, ysr is goon . He and his congress chummies are very dangerous group of people, which is not true about Naidu. YSR is well known for his violence and that could be the reason for his victory.

 
At 3:16 AM, Blogger Vikram A. said...

Hi Anand,

I just left Hyderabad after being there for a month.

It will be interesting to see how the entire TRS/Telangana situation plays out.

Vikram

 
At 5:17 AM, Anonymous Raj said...

Hi,

Really wonderful Article i never read about Naidu.

Keep it up. Keep posting like this.

Raj

 
At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Niket said...

Were we really better off in pre-1991 era than we are now? Or can the voting patterns be traced to human psychology? That one doesn't mind sleeping hungry one day a week if his neighbour does the same; but he will be unhappy owning a maruti car if his neighbour has a mercedes.

Or is it that Naidu showed them a dream, that was not realized, while YSR set the bar so low that people were ready to overlook his performance?

Because, if AP is better now than it was under Naidu, I don't see it.

 
At 4:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Naidu I have evry reason to believe was corrupt. But he is not a goon, not a rowdy sheeter. YSR as someone pointed out is dangerous. You dont have to dig deep to discover his faction leader roots- a history of revenge killings. Any kid from rayalseema will tell you about it. The antecedents of his family apparently would put a shahabuddin to shame. Very surprising why the media never talks about it.

 
At 5:50 AM, Anonymous pavan said...

Well if millions of voters in AP reached a different conclusion, it does not mean that their decision was right.What is popular need
not be right. As somebody who has lived in AP for a long time, I know that naidus admin did impact our lives. The software boom that changed the face of Hyd saw lakhs of lower middle class educated families benefiting from it.

My late father would suffer long hours in queues after travelling to 10 different corners in the city to pay his taxes and bills.Today my mother walks into an eseva center and pays all her bills in a system that is on par with any other system in a first world nation.It angers me to no end when people say the benefits didnt reach the common man. Who is the common man? Isnt my mother a common man? We are as lower middle class as it can get. of course there were the usual rising energy costs,electricity and water getting expensive by the year. Also the fact that rural AP was absolutely untouched is hogwash. Dwacra was a massive success. The desilting of canals was something that had not been done in the last 50 years.

Then what was the outrage against ? Remember AP was going through the worst drought in the last 50 years.The Govt did warn people that monsoons would fail again. Well I guess the message didnt reach the farmers or maybe they didnt believe it. Farmers would keep going ahead with subsequent crops on loans.The suicides amongst farmers was just one of the things that did it for Naidu.

In this context I am reminded of a particular 'Dial the CM' expisode on Doordarshan - a program where the Cm would personally
take peoples calls. I remember naidu berating someone for complaining about failing monsoons. he suggested if the farmer had no farming work,there was no reason to stop him from doing something else. And in what was probably a bad case of
foot in the mouth', he suggested the farmer could work as a daily labourer in one of the food for work schemes or in any of
the other projects that were going on. The outcome was expected.
There was a massive outrage against th 'hitech cm' for suggesting that farmers were coolies. It was humiliating the annadata.('Did Naidu, the son of a farmer eat rice or did he have microchips for lunch?') . And the 'anti-farmer' tag was created that continues till this day.

Why did urban Ap vote against Naidu? I am given to believe that state govt officials and ngos decided to vote en masse against the tdp.Remember the work culture in our sarkari offices underwent a dramatic transformation under naidu. The man was a maniacally hard task master.A babu in a govt office could no longer idle away the afternoon chewing paan under a tree because he had to swipe his card. I remember a state govt offical telling me 'We have worked very hard for 8 bloody years.bahut ho gaya..We need a break'. A tout outside the RTO office could no longer make 500 rupees on a license because it was now computerised.Why would he vote for the TDP? A school teacher in a govt secondary school could not run away from his responsibility beacause the cm with a click of a mouse could track the pass percentage in his subject (courtesy CMIS). Yes I have heard horror stories from state govt junior lecturers of receiving calls from the CM himself demanding an explanation on the bad performance of students in his subject.Why would they vote for him?

Ofcourse the fact that the maoists were targetting only the tdp cadre made it absolutely impossible for the tdp to have any form of campaign in naxalite pockets. The attempt on naidus life saw his security being beefed up and this was a death blow because with that he lost contact
with the masses. The man who would walk into a colony and reprimand the association for the surrounding filth had to travel only by helicopter.
That gave YSR an edge in that he became a man of the masses , a man who walked the lenght and breadth of AP.

I am no spokesperson of the tdp nor am a die har admirer of naidu. I know there are a lot of skeletons in his/their cupboards. But as someone who lived in AP
during Naidus term,I can say that it was a timewhen you could sense the presence of a government around you. A government that was working. sometimes good work..sometimes bad but it was work working nevertheless..
You dont have that now. Even a auto driver in Hyderabad will tell you ' it was different then..things are bad now'.
Why did the municipalities still vote for ysr? My software engineer friend in san jose tells me ' I like YSR. Ill vote for him. My fam in india
used to pay 3000 rupees earlier. We dont pay anything now'.

 

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