A decade of intransigent pursuit of political power finally culminated in victory for Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy in 2019.
The first year in office clearly makes it obvious that he is star-crossed of fate, and the start of his term was as controversial, confrontational, filled with courage, conviction, pertinacious, and firmly inflexible.
His political worldview surfaced beyond doubt; that he is a man of his word, believes that the core purpose and function of a government is welfare, and the economy should take care of itself. Mr Reddy was unambiguous about his ambition; undo most of what his predecessor Chandrababu Naidu did, create a personal bond with people and become electorally impregnable.
His reading of what the people expect from him was unmistakable from his electoral campaign and manifesto the state’s exchequer shall be transferred in instalments to the people through a plethora of schemes, and transform the electorate into beneficiaries of direct cash transfers.
In so doing, Jagan Mohan Reddy defies the Marxist wisdom that religion is the opiate, after all, money can be equally powerful.
Having finally come to power after facing charges of humungous corruption, including a long haul in the penitentiary, and continuing of cases, CM Reddy chased the reverse tendering of projects granted by predecessor Naidu, despite more than one Central guidance to the contrary.
Seemingly politically suave, to reverse the perception on corruption now, Naidu is the corrupt leader while Reddy will end it, and use the monies thus saved for further welfare it created consternation amongst investors and businessmen.
Jagan Mohan Reddy, himself an industrialist, could not care less. Here he chose what the people want over what the state needed in the long-term a buoyant economy powered by investments, jobs and growth. Amidst a national slowdown, having inherited a battered economy for a state, his insouciance towards matters economic are not merely bewildering, but could be fatal for him, even electorally.
Concurs Dr Sanjaya Baru, author of bestselling book, The Accidental Prime Minister and media adviser to former PM Dr Manmohan Singh.
“Unlike Telangana, Andhra Pradesh got off to a poor start. First with Chandrababu Naidu, given his obsession with Amaravati and his fight with the Centre on Special Status. Now with Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s vengeful approach to his predecessor and a lack of focus on development. In Telangana, where Chandrashekar Rao delivered beyond expectations, in Andhra Pradesh, both Naidu and Jagan have delivered below expectations,” he said.
A strong leader takes strong decisions and when they prove right, it is magic. From the trifurcation of the capital, and shifting AP’s executive operations from the fictional Amaravati to a solid city like Vizag was pragmatic, even as his decision to make English compulsory in government schools was visionary.
A future generation of well-educated in English kids could be the building block for a society of higher empowerment and greater social equity in future.
“Jagan Reddy government still seems to be in election mode and missing the governance mode. After Chandrababu Naidu failed to deliver in his term, people had high expectations, but instead, the YSRC government only wants to politick. The judiciary has rightfully restored the SEC, a decision election commissioners of all states have welcomed. This government needs to course correct and start development, before it is too late for people of Andhra Pradesh,” said a BJP leader.
The strong headiness of a young leader also implies a stomach for greater perpetual confrontation and strife as a sustained way to keep his political rival down, and Jagan Mohan Reddy embodied it.
The constant political clashes between YSRC and TDP cadre, more than sporadic political violence and a near total politicisation of police promises to keep the cadre of both parties busy, and economic investments away.
His government, little doubt, has little strategy on handling legislation that can muster the test of judiciary, leading to a series of court cases. Reddy seems clueless on how to handle the judicial obstacles, save counter litigate.
Surprisingly, Jagan Reddy showcases great tact, diplomacy and charm in politics beyond the borders. Where Naidu was confrontational and on a warpath with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and counterpart CM K. Chandrashekar Rao, Jagan Reddy has groomed great personal relationships with both. It reveals a trait – if he wants, he can.
In the second year, if a resolute CM Reddy refocuses on development and economic growth, give up his one-upmanship against TD and Naidu, and restore harmony, he will be spoken of, in minor paraphrasing of the words of Kipling from his epic poem, If, “…Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, and which is more you’ll be a Leader”.