YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) Chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy took oath as the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday that was administered by Governor ESL Narasimhan at the Indira Gandhi Municipal Stadium in Vijayawada amid thousands of supporters. Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) and DMK Chief MK Stalin were among the chief guests at the ceremony.
After swearing-in as the CM, Reddy iterated his commitment to implementing party’s two-page manifesto including the ‘Navaratnas’ [nine] promises. After his speech, he signed his first file as the CM, increasing the old-age pension from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,250 per month and announced that the amount will be increased by Rs 250 per year.
At the venue, KCR congratulated Reddy in his speech and prayed for better cooperation in the matters of Godavari and Krishna rivers, waters of which are shared between the two states. The water-sharing issue has been one of the many vexing issues between the two Telugu-speaking states in the last five years.
Considering the tussles between the neighbouring states, nine key promises in his manifesto and numerous infrastructure projects under construction, including the capital city ‘Amaravati’ left behind by the previous CM Chandrababu Naidu, the path ahead is not going to be easy for the new CM. Another significant task ahead of the CM is getting the ‘Special Category Status’ for the state, a crucial demand that severed Naidu’s ties with the National Democratic Alliance.
Translated as ‘nine gems’, YSRCP’s Navaratnas include promises such as upto Rs 15 lakh fee reimbursement for poor students, housing for all, free medical treatment for poor under Arogyasri, Rs 50,000 financial assistance for every farmer per year for five years and phase-wise prohibition of alcohol among other promises. Analysts have estimated that the implementation costs for these welfare promises alone would cost upto Rs 40,000 crore and if implemented, it would be a major setback for the state’s revenue.
The previous TDP government had begun the construction of Amaravati under massive fanfare gathering more than 33,000 acres of land under the land pooling system. The capital city was planned to be built and developed in several phases estimating an expense of over Rs 48,000 crore just for the first phase.
Although Polavaram multipurpose irrigation project was declared as a national project in 2014, the TDP government in the state took over the responsibility of the construction. While over Rs 11,200 crore were spent for the project, the Centre has reimbursed only Rs 6,727 crore, so far, according to official data.
Reddy has recently met Narendra Modi, who is yet to begin his second term as prime minister, seeking financial support for the Rs 2.58 lakh crore debt-ridden state.
Considering these challenges and the state’s enormous dependence on the Centre for financial assistance, it is to be seen how Reddy’s regime tackles them.
YSRCP has won 151 of the 175 Assembly and 22 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh, leaving 23 assembly seats and 3 MP seats for Telugu Desam Party.