By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, Aug 23 (IANS) With the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh set to complete three months next week, the dominant feeling among people seems that it is focusing more on settling scores with the opposition TDP, rather than addressing people’s concerns.
IANS spoke to a cross section of people who were of the opinion that while it is too early to judge the government’s performance, it appears to be obsessed with targeting the Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
However, the public, especially women, are happy with the initiatives of the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government like implementing the total liquor ban and hike in social security pension, but many believe that 75 per cent reservation for locals in the industries may boomerang.
Mixed reactions emerged from the people, even as uncertainity prevails over the future of the state capital Amaravati, with ministers and YSRCP leaders speaking in different tones on whether the government will continue with development of Amaravati or look for an alternative.
Amaravati inhabitants, especially farmers who had given their lands for the land pooling scheme for the capital and were hoping for some benefit, are disappointed with the Jagan Reddy government for bringing the work to a halt. The crash in land prices over last two-and-a-half months has impacted the real estate sector in Amaravati and surrounding areas in Guntur district.
However, only a few decisions have had direct impact on the people. Other decisions, such as review of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), terminating one of the contracts for the Polavaram project and probe into the works awarded by the previous government, did not have direct impact on people.
Decisions like shutting down canteens serving five-rupee meals in urban areas have affected the poor, daily wage earners and people of low income groups. The government shut down over 200 canteens started last year by TDP government, citing irregularities.
The YSRCP government has , however, clarified that it will re-open these canteens after making necessary changes in the scheme.
Ban on sand mining has also hit the construction sector with shortage of sand cropping up in many areas. The price of a sand-loaded truck has doubled to Rs 20,000 over the last two months. The new government claims that sand mining was being controlled by TDP leaders and proposes to come out with a new policy.
“Anti-Naidu sentiment among people still persist but if the new government continues to take such hasty steps, the public opinion may turn against Jagan Mohan Reddy too,” said Mallu Rajesh of Visakhapatnam.
Most people believe that the legislation for 75 per cent reservation for locals in industries affects investment.
“If you make it mandatory for the industries then the investment will be affected. Some reservation for locals is okay but 75 per cent is not practicable,” said Rajesh, who is a small player in the construction business.
“Any industry will look to recruit manpower on its own depending on the skills required, while the government’s assurance that it will train locals in the skills they require may not convince them,” said U.V.L.N Rao, a small businessman in Visakhapatnam.
People are happy with the government decision to impose total prohibition in stages.
“It is a big issue in every house. With the Naidu government allowing opening of more shops and reducing the price, liquor consumption had doubled, playing havoc with many families,” said Rajesh.
Sekhar Gangadhar, a truck driver in the East Goadavari district’s Razole also believes that Reddy has taken pro-people decisions.
He says that private schools in his area have reduced fees. This is seen as an indirect impact of many people admitting their children in government schools following the announcement of the ‘Amma Vodi’ scheme and the Chief Minister promising to improve the infrastructure in state-run schools.
Sekhar’s 72-year-old father is now getting Rs 2,250 every month under the old-age pension scheme. The government has increased the pension by Rs 250. “This helps in meeting his monthly medical expenses,” said Sekhar.
Vijayawada-based social activist V. Satyanarayana believes that despite getting a huge mandate Jagan Reddy is not in a position to put any demands to the Centre because of the cases of illegal assets pending against him.
“He has become a puppet in the hands of the Centre because of the cases against him. He can’t even demand anything, forget about putting any pressure on the Centre,” he said.
Satyanarayana said that while Chandrababu Naidu and those close to him reaped benefits by acquiring land for of development of the state capital, Jagan Reddy was trying to strike at his predecessor through his moves.
“This political vendetta is not good for the state or its people,” Satyanarayana said.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be reached at [email protected])