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The difficult burden of organising his team and putting things in order before the next Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh falls to Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy. The cabinet colleagues are becoming berserker with loose public talks leads to controversies and political rows.

Although there are many welfare programmes benefiting thousands of beneficiaries, things may appear to be improving on the welfare front. However, some underlying problems, such as the selection of unintended individuals as “beneficiaries” of state government welfare programmes and the method of land acquisition, may change Jagan’s electoral dynamics. 

According to reports, the input he received from his reliable sources made him feel uneasy. It is one thing to swiftly win over voters with announcements about welfare plans, but quite another to choose the people who would benefit from those plans. The state government will struggle to verify and pass them off as the intended beneficiaries if the lists of beneficiaries created by his party’s MLAs are jam-packed with the names of cronies of the legislators or those who are ineligible. Jagan is still aware of what happened in relation to white ration cards during the YS Rajasekhar Reddy administration. There were significantly more white ration cards approved—nearly 70 lakh—than were actually needed.

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The main reason was that the white ration card entitled holders to avail Arogyasri scheme under which listed diseases could be treated free in identified hospitals. This free treatment provision prompted even the affluent sections to obtain the white card by hook or crook.  Finally, the state government had to slash the numbers of white ration cards issued throughout the state.The government had to do it in the face of stiff resistance from those who had been misidentified as ‘beneficiaries’ in the first place. They included celebrities and crorepathis! This also raised questions about the criteria used in the ‘selection’ process.

Presently, in the case of identification of beneficiaries for allotment of house sites the lists already prepared by MLAs leave much to be desired.

Finalised at the offices of local MLAs, they include largely the names of supporters of the legislators. The local government staff, knowing what is what, had to face embarrassing moments as they cannot say no, even if the lapses and violations of official criteria are obvious. The officials concerned are complacent that there would be no enquiry in the future with regard to the lists of beneficiaries. That apart, the parcels of land meant for the housing schemes had been acquired at astronomically high prices, pinching the exchequer. Taxpayer money, totaling crores of rupees, has gone down the drain. The whole murky episode must now be handled secretly, since after all the prestige of the government is at stake.

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There are also cases of lands being acquired in low-lying areas, between the flood bank and river bed in violation of river conservation rules etc. As long as there are no formal complaints, nobody is going to be bothered about such issues. That is, even violators in known cases cannot be prosecuted! Amidst all this, those who ought to be in the beneficiaries’ lists by virtue of their economic status and other eligibility criteria are up in arms because they have been taken for granted by the local legislators. This has raised questions about whose welfare is the state government talking about.

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Jagan is sore that his party leaders did not hit back hard when the opposition alleged that his wife was involved in the recently unearthed liquor scam in New Delhi. YS Bharathi, chairperson of the Jagan-owned Sakshi daily, has allegedly been targeted by members of the principal opposition in the AP Legislative Assembly. The farmers’ latest padayatra on the Amaravati issue, from the capital city to famous Sun temple at Arasavilli village of Srikakulam, has added fuel to fire.

Jagan has not been able to effect a reshuffle of his cabinet, despite his promise that he would give opportunity to 50 of his party legislators to become ministers by rotation, after splitting the five-year term into two.

He also cannot follow the strategy used by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in West Bengal during the 2006 elections, which involved instantly refusing tickets to 64 existing MLAs. Unlike the YSRCP, the CPI(M) is an ideology-based party and does not depend on the personality of a single leader. This explains why Jagan must exercise caution as his party gears up for the next Assembly elections. #Khabarlive #hydnews #hyderabadlive