Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Arun Shourie and AP Assembly...

I think two incidents defined the no-confidence motion that was debated in the AP Assembly yesterday. 

1. TRS MLA Harish Rao was speaking on the Rs.1/kg rice scheme. He was mentioning how the government slyly cut down on the sugar and kerosene quota of the ration card holder while reducing the price of rice. He said that only half kg of sugar and less than 4 litres of kerosene was subsidized right now. Because of the reduction in this quota, the ration card holder is burdened by about Rs.30 more than before. At this point of time, the minister of legislative affairs, D. Sridhar babu rises. He gets all combative, demands that he be heard immediately. He then shouts "why are you keeping on repeating "only half kg sugar, only half kg sugar"". 

Listening to his tone and looking at his posture, one expected that Harish Rao gave out wrong information and the minister is out to refute it strongly. The minister starts of by saying that government is spending about Rs.800 per person on subsidies for 7 1/2 crore people of the state. And then asks the opposition only "Why did we reduce sugar quota? You have been ministers. You know how it works. It depends on productivity, and on how much we get from the centre. These are administrative decisions" So all that combativeness was to merely agree with the observation that sugar quota has been cut. Later he went to explain why Kerosene quota has been cut. And then launched the rhetoric - we reduced the price of rise from Rs.2/kg to Rs.1/kg .... and so on. the first 6 minutes of this video here captures it all. 

Harish Rao got up after the minister's reply and thanked him for acknowledging that quota of other items have been cut. Am sure the minister would have rued accepting that fact on the floor of the assembly. If he kept quiet, people would have just thought this was another rant by the opposition. 

2. At around midnight, the CM stood up to reply. He first got into some rhetoric, and then into statistics. At one point, he says that the Leader of Opposition quoted false figures from a CAG report. He wondered how Mr. Naidu cannot even read documents and come well prepared. Mr. Naidu rose, and told the CM the full book name (it's a CAG annual report for 2010-2011), then gives the page number and then quotes the figures again. The figure is about bloated expenditure for irrigation projects. Some 27,000 crores. CM says, no no... main issue is that the report is talking about projects from 40 years. Mr. Naidu again refutes saying that he is quoting about projects that started after 2004, and CAG gives yearly reports, not 40 year old reports. At 3:58 in this video, the CM tells the opposition "When we quote, maybe there is some printing mistake. Please check the book". That was the answer from the leader of the state - "Maybe there is a printing mistake".

I quoted the above two examples just to show how good the governance is actually in Andhra Pradesh. Ministers believe that being combative and throwing in the pro-poor card is the logical answer for actual logical questions posed by the opposition. Almost all the ministers who replied resorted to more rhetoric than facts. The latest fad of the government - Rajiv Yuvakiranalu came under criticism from the ruling party ministers themselves only. This happened last week, and in the assembly yesterday, ministers themselves said they will rectify shortcomings. How they will rectify shortcomings in a program that is yet to be launched is beyond comprehension. The CM already announced that about 1 lakh jobs will be given out in December. He had no answer to how the training is happening for these people. 

The CM had no answer on the 2-12 hour power cuts. On crop holiday, he said loans upto 1 lakh are being given interest free to farmers if they pay back within an year. How fair is to expect a farmer who hasn't grown a crop because of wrong policies, to repay a fresh loan in one year? 

The quality of the debate reflected the political situation in the state. The TDP was continously harping on the hardships faced by the farmer, in an attempt to gain a pro-farmer image. Though their arguments were laced with many official statistics, the strength of their arguments was often lost in the rhetorical din of the ruling party members. Newspapers in the morning highlighted the personal duel between the CM and opposition leader; between the PCC Chief and the opposition leader; between the PCC chief and YSR's widow etc. The TRS spoke more about their feelings on injustice to Telangana. YSR Congress leader spoke about how this government is screwing up the state. Congress party members lost no opportunity to thank and praise Sonia Gandhi/Rahul Gandhi. 

The political significance of yesterday's debate cannot be lost. Jagan Mohan Reddy famously said he has the numbers to bring down the government. Clearly he does not have the numbers now. However, without PRP's support (the merger is not yet legally done), the congress is in a minority. If all those Congress MLAs who voted for the no-confidence motion are disqualified, then the by-elections will be very interesting to watch. Since Chandrababu Naidu accepted Jagan's challenge to place a no-confidence motion, the only loser from this whole episode is Jagan. The real challenge for Congress will be to win the 17 seats that will go to bye-elections. That said, the Telangana issue has been dominating the political scenario of AP so much, that all other issues just take a back seat. 

The dramatic drop in the levels of debate and discourse in AP politics for the past 7 years in very depressing. Facts are giving way to fiction. Two previous blogs here and here have documented the dramatic fall in actual governance in Andhra Pradesh. Within no time, it is saddening to write another blog rueing the depressing fall in public discourse. 

Do you want further proof of the fall? Minister Sridhar babu brings in Arun Shourie into the debate. In his attempt to discredit BJP floor leader Kishen Reddy, the minister says "From which party is Mr. Kishen Reddy from? From which party? From that party whose member Mr. Arun Shourie wrote a book criticizing the father of Indian constitution. Worshipping false gods." You need more proof? 


CodeNameV said...

The LOLest moment of the night definitely was "May be it is a printing mistake". Seriously! That is the level of preparation that leader of a state has when facing questions from the members within the assembly? Imagine what happens when he faces a public forum! It will be a "cat got your tongue" moment.

At one point, I asked myself "why the hell am I awake at 1:00 in the night listening such stupid answers for some really valid questions?" Kiran Kumar Reddy was literally scrambling for answers/information.

The level of debate was probably at an all time low! In fact, only point when there was some semblance was when Babu said "I have a right to reply" and "I wont yield" when ruling party MLAs were not allowing him to continue. At other than those two points, none of the assembly members showed a shred of civility during the whole discussion. It was appalling to see Botsa go on and on about imagined and delusional benefits due to their schemes.

To top it all, the speaker who is supposed to be the role model did nothing to really put members in their place. It was unnecessary on his part to let Botsa go on tangents. Not one point made by Botsa countered opposition claims logically. It was disappointing to say the least!

All in all, yesterday was more politics than introspection. It is good to keep it that way but without the crocodile tears for the people of the state. Honestly, none of the leaders in the state at any level whatsoever care for AP anymore. In fact, at this point of time, the best alternative left for Kiran Kumar Reddy is to ensure he bags enough moolah for future use while the best alternative for opposition leaders is to find a common space where they can put the pressure on the government instead of the people!

Dinipc said...

Sridhar Babu's brother lives in Atlanta and supports a lot of Hindutva activities, even funds them quite generously. Once when Sridhar Babu came to Atlanta, his brother organized a little get-together and invited his closest friends over. Guess what, once the comfort settled in, Sridhar Babu was showered with ideological questions of UCC, Article 370, Ayodhya, etc. The man was overwhelmed, and he conceded quite a few points, particularly on UCC and Article 370. He said he did not agree with his party, the Congress, on these issues. I was there in this get-together. Sridhar Babu's brother's friends include top office-bearers of Sangh organizations in America. Sridhar Babu knows this. His siblings have all settled in America, only he alone seems to be carrying his father's "legacy" in the Congress - the siblings are simply allergic to politics. This is the story of many Congress households. Congress is a very inspiriting party to be a part of - the only motivation for one to be in Congress is opportunism and economic growth through corruption and favours. If opposition parties like BJP can get a strong and genuine leader (Narendra Modi?), the rats will very quickly desert the ship and Congress can be made history!

Admin said...

I meant to say, Congress is a very un-inspiring party to be a part of.

Sudhir said...

@CodeNameV - I wanted to write about the Speaker too, but somehow could not get to fit it in this piece here :). Maybe some other time. Not just his behaviour day before, but in general too - he is a very lethargic speaker - postponing decisions indefinetely and making them sound like "tactical" decisions!

This CM is a blot. Only advertisements all over the place. Like Venkaih Naidu said - advertisements full, administration nill :)

@Dinipic - that's a very interesting insight. thanks for the comment. State ministers are not expected to have views on national matters, hence he will not have any views on that :D


Moinz said...

Great post!

Loved the "Printing mistake" part. It shows how accountable the govt is and is very easy guess that these people will not get elected in the next elections.

It seems congress has only one mantra. Those who worship "Gandhis" are true, rest all are ...

Ragnor relay said...

Just love reading this kind of news. Thanks!

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