Congress Leaders Question BRS's Unfulfilled Promises Despite Telangana Statehood

Hyderabad: Congress leaders, who are gung-ho after the party’s victory in Karnataka, seem to be pinning their hopes on the failures of the BRS to deliver on key issues behind the statehood demand. They aver that people can be swayed by sentiments for some time but can’t be hoodwinked all the while.

Former PCC president Ponnala Lakshmaiah says that development, which has benefits in the long run, may not deliver electoral dividends in the short term.

“People can get carried away by promises as they seek more than what they have. We distributed nearly 24 lakh acres of land in Telangana but Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao promised three acres of land for Dalits, who constitute 16 per cent of the population.”

To deliver on this promise, the government needs to buy land at a minimum of 'five lakh per acre to give three acres of land to 10 lakh Dalit families. The government will have to buy 30 lakh acres, which in itself, entails a full year’s budget. But people cannot understand, he added.

Rao promised a double bedroom house making a mockery of our Indiramma housing scheme saying they don’t factor in the presence of a second couple in the family. But how many double bedroom houses has he constructed and delivered, he asked.

Reeling out the other promises made by BRS the former PCC president said, “Muslims were promised 12 per cent reservations but they remain at four per cent. Similarly STs were promised a 12 per cent quota but it was increased to 10 per cent from six per cent in 2022.”

Congress granted statehood as the demand has been pending for six decades. The BJP had said ‘one vote for two states’ at its AP state unit’s annual meeting in Kakinada. We did not have an eye on power while agreeing to carve out a new state. This was granted even though we knew that we would lose in Andhra Pradesh politically, Ponnala added.

Elaborating on how electoral dividends may not follow good development work, he said, “We introduced the food security act and ensured affordable food for the poor and introduced NREGS. This scheme came in handy and ensured that millions of families survive corona. We introduced aarogyasri in the health sector and ensured corporate treatment for the deprived sections. Do we think that people voted us out because we didn’t do good work? People yearn for more and make political choices.”

Explaining the transformation that the country saw over the years, Ponnala said, “People of our country did not have two square meals a day in 1947. We rose to be an exporter of grains and have become the fifth biggest economy now. The Congress party had a major role in this. We completed 34 irrigation projects in the state without any inter-state problems. We catered to all regions and their rights through Jalayagnam. There never was any discrimination or favouritism.”

Are we to presume that we lost because of these achievements? People sometimes make different choices and realize the folly after sometime, he added.

Meanwhile, CLP leader Bhatti Vikramarka said, “Rao promised among other things that he would make a Dalit the state’s chief minister; bring under irrigation one lakh acres of land in each assembly constituency and colleges in each mandal. But not a single acre has been additionally irrigated after he came to power. Such promises and lies were peddled to get votes. People have now realised that it is the Congress which will work for them.”

People are living under a cloud of fear sans. By not allowing people to speak he has removed their fair share of dignity and self-respect. Students fear they might lose a chance to appear in exams if they raise their voice. Farmers fear their land could disappear in Dharani. Senior citizens and handicapped fear withdrawal of pension benefits. We want a Telangana with social justice. Journalists and media houses are being targeted as they fear they may lose advertisements. While local youth wait for jobs, the BRS government is employing retired officers like Somesh Kumar from outside the State in key positions and is using them to fulfill their agenda. A retired engineer-in-chief Muralidhar Rao gets extension. There is no separate irrigation minister and the chief minister holds the charge, Bhatti explained.

On how the Congress was caught off-guard by Rao, senior party leader Shabbir Ali said, “We were confident that he will merge the party if Statehood is given. After we gave the state, he sought the chief minister post for himself. He gave false promises of Bangaru Telangana. He promised a ring road but there was no land acquisition in this regard. It was the Congress which built the outer ring road, airport in Shamshabad and Metro trains.”

The oft-repeated opinion of the Congress leaders is that Rao is a known maverick, who took advantage of the aspirations of people from the region to have a separate State. They attribute the statehood to Sonia Gandhi, who in 2009 had said in Bhongir ‘jab Satta mein dobara aayenge jaldi se jaldi Telangana banaenge’, despite the political risk it faced in the rest of Andhra Pradesh.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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