With an eye on polls, Telangana Budget to focus on sops

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K Chandrasekhar Rao wants to repeat the late Chief Minister Y S Reddy’s ‘2009 success formula’ to retain power in 2019.

Hyderabad: The TS Budget for 2017-18 is to set the tone for the 2019 Assembly elections. The government, which has laid more emphasis on irrigation projects so far, seems to have realised that irrigation projects won’t fetch votes but populist schemes will.

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao wants to repeat the late Chief Minister Y S Reddy’s ‘2009 success formula’ to retain power in 2019 with the help of populist schemes.

YSR, too, gave prominence to irrigation projects in 2004 with the Jalayagnam scheme. But when the project got delayed due to court cases and environmental issues, he changed his priorities and embraced populist schemes like Arogyasri and fee reimbursement for college students, which catapulted him to power in 2009.

No scope to spend Rs 25,000 crore: Harish Rao
Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who is conducting marathon meetings with ministers and officials to finalise the state Budget, made it clear that funds for irrigation projects should be slashed this time and populist schemes should get priority as elections are just two years away. Irrigation projects often fail to make much progress due to land acquisition issues.

The CM had made a ‘bold experiment’ by sanctioning Rs 25,000 crore for irrigation projects last year, which was unheard of even in undivided AP, when the highest Budget for irrigation was Rs 8,500 crore. He did so in order to speed up irrigation projects to realise his dream of irrigating one crore acres in the state.

However, a year later, less than half that amount has been spent as projects were bogged down in court cases, land acquisition and environmental controversies.

Populist schemes such as Arogyasri, fee reimbursement and scholarships for students, 2BHK housing, KG-to-PG free education etc suffered due to lack of funds which has invited the ire of those who expected to benefit.

The CM is learnt to have said, “The Opposition with selfish interests blocked our projects by approaching courts, National Green Tribunal etc. This dealt us a double blow. While we could not take up irrigation projects as planned, we could not also sanction funds for other welfare schemes.”

However, irrigation minister T. Harish Rao said this should not be viewed as cutting funds for irrigation. “This is only to ensure judicious spending of the Budget. When there is no scope to spend Rs 25,000 crore on irrigation projects in a year, it is better some portion is diverted to other schemes where it can be effectively utilised instead of keeping it unspent.”

Sops galore

81 lakh sheep to Yadavs, Kurumas: Rs 2,500 crore
Saloons for Nayi Brahmins in villages
Setting up of Most Backward Classes Corporations with corpus of Rs 1,000 crore
Providing washing machines to dhobis

 

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