Saturday, July 20, 2024

Kishore Poreddy Column :KCR’s Telangana Model-Minimum governance, maximum politics!

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There is no denying that Bharat Rashtra Samithi supremo and Telangana Chief Minister Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao has evolved a unique and path-breaking governance model – the Telangana Model. While traditional governance models stress maximum governance, KCR’s unique Telangana Model emphasises minimal governance coupled with maximum politics.

In this model, the Chief Minister abjures from coming to the Secretariat for years together and restricts himself to his farmhouse or official residence – the Pragathi Bhavan – guarded like a fortress to keep the masses from reaching out to him. Not just ‘subjects’, even his cabinet colleagues are seldom ‘granted’ the privilege of meeting the Chief Minister.

Every government institution and department has fallen into disrepair over the past eight years due to this ‘minimum governance’ model. For example, the recent spate of student protests demanding inter alia teaching staff, toilets, and insect-free food at government schools mirrors this institutional disrepair in the education department.

The only exceptions to the minimal governance model are the state’s ‘revenue generation’ departments. These include departments like the excise, commercial taxes, land revenue and even traffic enforcement, which chase higher and higher targets every year to maximise revenues from liquor, land registration, petrol and diesel, fines from traffic violations and the like. As a result, Telangana is today the second highest taxing state in the country compared to their GDPs.

This relentless focus on maximising cash flows is not limited to tax revenues. It extends to raising as much debt as possible from wherever possible and pushing the state into a debt trap in which further loans are necessary to service the existing debt or pay for essential services.

Curiously, this state of affairs is nothing to be ashamed of in the ‘Telangana Model’ of governance. On the contrary, it is an opportunity to pull out the victim card and play politics by blaming the Center for not allowing the state to borrow more, as the state’s Finance Minister Harish Rao recently did. 

Even the ‘Telangana Model’ of welfare is unique in its own right. While the accepted model of welfare – globally – stresses benefiting the poorest of the poor most, in the ‘Telangana Model’, it is the other way around. While the poorest of the poor have to feed on empty promises, those that already are relatively advantaged benefit from the government’s ‘welfare’ schemes.

The government’s free double-bedroom housing scheme is a classic example. After abjectly failing to deliver on the promise, the government changed it to providing financial assistance to those who already own a plot, leaving the poorest who do not own any land in the lurch. Likewise, while the Rythu Bandhu scheme helps the land owners with input subsidies, and that too without a cap, it leaves out the landless tenant farmers – the weakest of the lot!

Promises that could have created assets for the most disadvantaged sections of society if implemented, like the three acres of land for landless Dalits and Podu land for tribals, are entirely ignored. Even the design of Sheep Distribution and Dalit Bandhu schemes ensures that the beneficiaries are politically influential, not the most deserving, i.e. the poorest of the poor in those sections.

Turning citizens from entitled right holders to beneficiaries of rulers’ grace is the most dehumanising feature of the Telangana Model. One scan of Minister and CM’s son, KT Rama Rao’s Twitter handle is enough to understand this.While under previous governments, the poor claimed medical and educational fee reimbursements as their right, in the ‘Telangana Model’ citizens have to plead with the CM’s son on a case-by-case basis and be grateful for any kindness the Minister shows.

Landowners have a right to their ownership records correctly recorded by the government. But under the ‘Telangana Model’ owners must also gain the grace of the local MLA – mostly BRS MLA given the Assembly composition – who is officially involved in the grievance redressal mechanism of Dharani portal. In the ‘Telangana Model’, the term ‘Janata Janardhan’ is just a cruel joke.

While governance is given a go-by in the ‘Telangana Model’, politics occupies the pride of place. Eliminating all political opposition by luring opposition party MLAs, subverting the anti-defection law and making opposition party MLAs cabinet ministers, convening the Assembly for the shortest period possible, banning opposition MLAs from the Assembly, banning Dharna Chowk, denying permissions for opposition parties’ yatras, threatening youth who dare to take on the government on Social Media platforms with police cases and constantly enacting political dramas to divert people from governance issues and to blame the opposition is where the rulers spend most of their time in the ‘Telangana Model’.

It is time we throw out the KCR’s ‘Telangana Model’ of ‘minimum governance and maximum politics’ and confine it to the dustbin of history, where it belongs.

(The author is BJP TS spokesperson)

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