Sunny Side Down
How Telangana CM Chandrasekhar Rao is gearing up for 2019 Assembly polls
TRS has adopted a please-all approach to reach out to both farmers and caste groups.
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Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has switched to poll mode since the very beginning of the new year. The ruling TRS has asked its cadre to publicise the ambitious schemes that the fledgling state has launched since it assumed office on June 2, 2014. While KCR is focusing on policy initiatives, constituting cabinet sub-committees of ministerial colleagues on several issues, KT Rama Rao, minister of information and technology, has begun whirlwind tours of the state, activating party cadre and expediting development projects.
The TRS supremo has asked all party MLAs and MPs to tour their constituencies extensively publicising government schemes and get ready to hold district-wise rallies from February to publicise how the party is governing the state. KCR is keen that the TRS should improve its electoral prospects by devising appropriate strategies to ensure that the party fares better than it did in 2014.
Elections are barely 16 months away, if they are not advanced, and he wants both legislators as well as ticket aspirants to find new ways to attract voters. He has put all of them on alert to facilitate changing contestants rather than rely on legislators who may be laggards in public perception in their respective constituencies.
KCR is equally aware that denying tickets, apart from causing disappointments, may also trigger dissension. Therefore, he is planning for a test run by conducting elections to the local bodies later this year. It will help assess grassroots support and determine the need to tweak the party strategy in areas where it is found to be weak.
As a prelude to this, on January 7, he constituted a cabinet sub-committee with the panchayat raj minister Jupally Krishna Rao as chairman, to draft a new Panchayat Raj Bill that empowers gram panchayats effectively for a working grassroots administrative system, and at the same time, empowering the government in acting against those failing to discharge their duties.
What he is aiming for is an accountable administration at the level of the village sarpanch, who may also double up as activists loyal to the TRS. He plans to emerge as the TRS support plank in rural areas in the run up to the next Assembly elections.
A "please all" approach is the larger game plan to reach out to different vulnerable sections, be it farmers or influential caste groups, apart from ensuring that round-the-clock power and potable water supply are ensured in all villages.
"If the farmers are happy, the rural economy would thrive," says KCR, assuring all support to them, including minimum support price for all farm produce.
The government plans to give Rs 4,000 an acre every season as input investment to each farmer. Farmers have suggested this sum be made available to them through post offices rather than the banks. The state has 1,42,12,826 acres of cultivable land and, at the proposed Rs 4,000 being given to 71,75,096 farmers, it will have to provide for Rs 5,685 crore towards investment support every farming season. The actual payout will be lesser. To show that the interests of the rural community is at his heart, KCR is going to introduce a budget exclusively for agriculture and allied activities from 2018-19.
"It will include agriculture, horticulture, agriculture university activities, marketing, cooperation, power subsidy to agriculture and the investment support scheme for farmers," says C Parthasarathi, agriculture secretary.
Analysts argue that while it is only a cosmetic arithmetic exercise at one level - less than one fifth of the state's annual budget is being marked for agriculture and allied activities - the idea of paying special attention to needs of the farming community may fetch the TRS long-term political dividend if it is perceived as pro-farmer.
Evidently, the government is planning to plough funds consciously in order to reap votes.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)