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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 2 January 13, 2024

Telangana state a new beginning for the welfare policy regime and development | Ashok Naidu

Friday 12 January 2024


Almost one decade after the formation of Telangana state, Congress came into power in an anther southern state and on the go to redefine the real meaning of welfare and public good; as it was projected as the freebee culture which makes masses poor and lazy by the nations’ ruling party. Right from its inception, Congress strongly believes in the welfare policies through which the real development of the nation is possible. The legacy of welfare regimes during Nehru, Indira, P.V.Narimha Rao, Manmohan Singh, etc., had a strong impact on the leadership. The slogan of “Garibi Hatao” by Indira Gandhi created a social revolution in Indian socio-political scenario of the day. Which was very pertinent to that day since the poverty was the biggest socio-political triggered problem during that contemporary times. It was not just remained as a slogan but was translated into a policy measure and mission mode program to end the poverty. Eradicating poverty through advocating several welfare measures is the moto and aim of the Congress. In contrast, giving incentives and exemptions to the capitalists by creating crony capitalism is the main moto of the contemporaneous national ruling party.

In this context, the debate over welfare and development is endless but the means to attain the development is always to be the context. Telangana state has a peculiar experience of welfare and development. The separate state had a demand of equal share in development and welfare. The first term ruling of BRS promised to realize the unfulfilled aspirations of the people such as resources (finance, water) and Jobs, popularly known as Nillu, Nidhulu, and Niyamakalu which were completely neglected by the leadership under the united Andhra Pradesh. KCR’s aspirational slogan “Bangaru Telangana”, is a kind of self-declared welfare scheme of programs that was rejected by its own people after the litmus test in the recent elections. BRS as a political party emerged from the statehood movement, people thought that their aspirations might be well known by the BRS than any other political party in the state. But after prolonged waiting, for the fruits of the welfare and development now they desperately looking for able leadership to attain their aspirations. Unfortunately, KCR’s Bangaru Telangana has not been addressed the expectations of the people completely, which could be the main reason for the people’s rejection. Though they have adopted several welfare measures that were development centric rather than people centric. Therefore, development should be always peoples’ centric rather than development centric.

The crucial task before the newly formed Congress government under the leadership of Mr. Revanth Reddy and Mr. Batti Vikramarka is now, to redefine the development in the context of democratic politics. In principal, the real meaning of Democracy is to reach out the aspirations of the people, there by the people shouldn’t be ignored in the process of development. Further, in each and every step the peoples’ involvement must be encouraged. The manifesto of the Congress party has clearly revealed that the party’s main objective i.e., to reach the people and to fulfill their aspirations. The crux of the point is that the Congress has identified the gaps which was not addressed by the previous rulers and determined to incorporate into their poll manifesto. But it was not just the sole criteria to get into power, however for reaching the people again the subject to the fulfillment of all the conditions and to get their support to assume into power.

The idea of a manifesto became more popular in recent day elections, it played a crucial role even in the recent elections of Telangana. In recent 2023 elections, all the major political parties in the state have released their own manifestoes among all it was the Congress manifesto which is more peoples’ centric and welfare of the common people. It is more close to the majority people in the state. In this elections, voting behavior was largely determined by the two main factors such as one is the caliber and credibility of the candidates and the next was the manifesto of the party. The Congress have done rigorous home wok on making its agenda more pro-people and also in selecting the candidates for the contestation to grab the vote bank.

Personality factors prevails in Indian democratic and electoral politics, especially in Congress the leadership qualities of the candidates fetching point not only for themselves but also for their party too. So the leadership abilities of Mr. Revanth Reddy attracted the High command and convinced them, under his able leadership the party is going to capture the power in elections despite a little opposition. Mr. Reddy after joining the Congress has very quickly adopted and adjusted the party’s democratic working environment and hierarchy of decision making etc. During his tenure as a Member of Parliament, he attracted national attention by debunking the humiliation of Shrimt. Nirmala Sithramans’ comments over his weak language abilities. Hence, his spontaneous response got admiration from Telugu states as well as across south India. It reflected his genuine acceptance of his identity as a sudra without any reluctance thereby he has shown a greater respect to the sections of the people who were under an inferiority complex from the ages.

Subsequently, Mr. Reedy’s appointment as a PCC Chief and his aggressive way of criticizing the ruling BRS has worked as a double-edged sword to elevate his own personality as a suitable leader to counter BRS and it also helped the Congress to become the alternative to the BRS by suppressing BJP. Even though Mr. Reddy does not have any political hereditary, his charismatic leadership qualities have gradually evolved in a short span of time. His political learning from working with the local government to the state and national politics consolidated his position in political platforms. Present-day leader should have a proper understanding of socio-political, cultural, economic and geographical factors of not only their own state but also the nation too. After taking oath as a Chief Minister to the State of Telanagana his decisions more on the welfare rather than political revenge on BRS astonishingly enhanced political mileage and credibility for his own personality and also for Congress party too.

The Manifesto of the Congress party has largely attracted the common man, even though a similar kind of welfare agenda was declared by the ruling BRS, the voting pattern tilted towards the Congress. The six guarantees of Congress:

1. Mahalakshmi; 2. Rythu Bharosa; 3. Gruha Jyothi; 4. Indhiramma Indlu; 5.Yuva Vikasam; 6.Cheyutha; which are popular demands and long-waiting aspirations of different sections of the society. The ruling BRS welfare agenda in the first phase was predominantly focused on Kalyanala Laxmi, Shadhi Mubarak, Mission Kakatiya, Mission Bhagiratha, and Asara Pension etc., in the simultaneous elections they have also promised to continue all previous schemes along with the new schemes like Dalitha Bandu, KCR Bheema, Soubhagyalaksmi, apart from the enhancement of the existing pensions etc., all with these Mr. KCR wanted to make a mark on the development strategy but, in due course of time they have lost the popular support as they over emphasized on the development rather than understanding the perception of the people. It was in this context, that the challenging task in front of the Congress was to counter BRS’ welfare agenda which people were already get acquainted with, but still, the systematic teamwork of various committees along with the manifesto committee of the Congress did it within a given time. The credit also goes to the high command for paying special attention by guiding to organize several meetings and sessions. The unique idea that the party has come up with was resolving several declarations such as Youth Declaration, Minority Declaration, BC Declaration, SC & ST Declaration, etc., which got the special attention of different sections of the society. Eventually, the poll manifesto was shaped by incorporating outcomes of all these declarations and meetings.

After visiting several urban and rural Assembly constituencies to understand the perceptions of the voters in pre and post-election scenarios, it was elucidated that the people wanted a change they preferred Congress because not just of a welfare agenda but also its long historical legacy of the pro-people’s policies and programs. The developmental model which proposed by the Congress successfully reached out each and every section of the community. The neglected sections got appropriate priority. Especially, the vulnerable sections like women got relaxation from the financial burden by providing free journeys in RTC buses. All these sections owned the party as their aspirations were reflected in the agenda and manifesto of the Congress. The crucial part now remaining is to implement and to fulfill the promises to gain popular support. The development process must be people-centric and ultimately the people’s involvement in each and every step to satisfy the aspirations of the common man would be the real meaning of democracy.

(Author: Prof. Naidu Ashok, Former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Osmania University, Hyderabad)

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