NETA NATTER | BALARAJU REFUSED ENTRY AT NEW SECRETARIAT
DECCAN CHRONICLE | DC Correspondent
The inauguration of the grand Telangana state Secretariat, amidst much fanfare, held the promise of improved governance. But it is facing teething troubles one hears. Ask anyone trying to enter the new centre of power, and not just commoners, even elected representatives from the ruling BRS are finding the new facility impenetrable. Experiencing hardship first-hand recently was BRS MLA Guvvala Balaraju, the party’s balladeer, who had to beat an angry, but helpless retreat. When Balaraju wanted to enter the Secretariat complex, he was bluntly told by security personnel that he could not. The reason? Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao was in his office. Security personnel made it clear that when the CM is in, everyone, other than Secretariat staff and officials, will have to stay out. An upset Balaraju got into a heated argument with security personnel, but in vain. His visit to the Secretariat began and ended at the entrance gate sadly.
ED CAUSES FLURRY AMONG BUILDERS
After the Enforcement Directorate made references to the names of ‘Phoenix’s Srihari and a few others — some very prominent names in the corridors of power, known for their ability to clinch land deals — all of the elite with close ties to the powers that be in Hyderabad are feeling shivers down their spines. Among those who have lost sleep in the last week are those who invested into their projects, real estate or infra. When Phoenix was first raided by the Income-Tax department, several politicos, bureaucrats and industrialists were worried about their investments getting exposed. There were rumours that the IT seized documents containing details of cash payments made to investors. They, however, heaved a sigh of relief when Phoenix top brass went around the city, tom toming that they had "managed" the case, taking advantage of the delay in finalising the appraisal report by IT sleuths who conducted the raids. Then came the ED supplementary charge-sheet which created ripples in calm waters. The ED not only referred to a land transaction between BRS MLC K. Kavitha and Phoenix Srihari but also made it abundantly clear that both have constantly been engaged in financial transactions. It also named a company that sold land to the alleged benami of Kavitha. It is said that the authorities know who played a crucial role in land deals concluded by several bureaucrats, who paid huge amounts of cash to middlemen to get plots in a certain layout. One entrepreneur, who had substantial investments in mobiles, is said to have pooled the cash from babus and forwarded it to the same firm. Now, the whole group is tensely watching and waiting.
CCLA CHANGES FOR THE BETTER?
The post of the Chief Commissioner of Land Administration (CCLA) is a crucial one in the state administration as it manages all land management issues. The CCLA is second only to Chief Secretary in bureaucratic hierarchy. Telangana state did not have a full-time CCLA since August 2016, after Raymond Peter’s retirement. This is not an easy office to deal with, with backlash from all quarters on mounting over pending land issues arising out of the Dharani portal. Senior IAS officers were holding the post as an "additional charge", including previous chief secretary Somesh Kumar from September 2016 till his cadre shift to AP and subsequent voluntary retirement from services. He was replaced by senior IAS officer Navin Mittal, again holding full additional charge as CCLA. Soon after Mittal took over as CCLA, the state government transferred two women IAS officers, K. Hymavathi and M. Satya Sarada Devi, who have been in the CCLA office for long. They replaced them with IAS officers, B. Gopi and Ashish Sangwan. Buzz in the CCLA circles is that Mittal wanted to create his own mark and replace officials appointed by Somesh Kumar. Another reason being cited is that since pendency of cases is high, officials may have to put in long hours and Gopi and Ashish are known to be work horses. A new broom often sweeps the best. Or not. Only time will tell.
POLITICOS WOO NEIGHBOURING STATE
Electioneering is not only about candidates, local cadre and leaders, and recognisable national faces hitting the campaign trail. Sometimes you can use a "little help" from a neighbouring state. Leaders from both the Telangana state BJP and the Congress — from Bandi Sanjay Kumar, D. K. Aruna, G. Vivek Venkatswamy and Dr K. Laxman and others from BJP, and A. Revanth Reddy and Kusuma Kumar from the Congress have been active in the "Kannada Seema" campaigning. But beyond them, it is unsung and unknown leaders and activists from second and third rungs, and some diehard ground-level workers who have hit the campaign trails in Karnataka using their own social contacts and personal relations to help make a mark. They are directly meeting voters, and for good measure, visiting various temples and Mutts in Karnataka, seeking blessings. Who will the Gods, and the people bless… the wait is almost over.
MINISTERS PITCH IDEAS FOR NEW AIRPORT NAME
What’s in a name? A lot when it comes to naming important public facilities. On cue, is the Bhogapuram International Airport for which Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy laid the foundation stone just the other day. Moments after the ceremony, several names popped up as options for naming the new airport. Nellimarla MLA Badukonda Appala Naidu urged Jagan to name the airport after former chief minister Dr Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy and terminals after Kommuru Appadu Dora, a four-time MLA from Bhogapuram and former minister Penumatsa Sambasiva Rao, an eight-time MLA from Sativda and Gajapathinagaram constituencies. It did not stop there. Kshatriya Samithi leader Gajapathiraju Nagesh Varma said the airport should be named after freedom fighter Alluri Seetharamaraju, while a TD leader said former CM N.T. Rama Rao would be the ideal person to name the airport after. But any naming would possibly have to wait till the airport actually takes shape. But clearly, it is never too early for politicians to make a pitch.
SURMOUNTING PETITIONS SOLD AS RADDI
What does an official do when petitions from people just keep filing up and the government takes no interest in them? Tadipatri municipal chairman J.C. Prabhakar Reddy may have the answer. Fed up with the Anantapur district administration not showing any interest in doing something about complaints received from people during the Spandana programme, Reddy wants to sell away collected petitions, all weighing 54 kg, to scrap paper buyers. Some of these petitions are two years old, nearly all of them relate to problems faced by people with respect to civic amenities. But then, the question now doing the rounds is what has he done as Tadipatri civic body head to solve problems faced by people instead of passing the buck to the district administration. The petitions are set to be sold as _raddi soon.