One year Jagan’s rule: Investors scared, courts defied, media muzzled, rights violated

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2019 was a momentous year for YSRCP and the party president Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy who swept to power with an unwavering mandate of 151 Assembly seats.

The first year of Jagan has been full of duds — a crippling state economy, which his government has struggled to tackle, no big-bang welfare measures, no employment creation, no marquee policy initiatives to capture any segment’s imagination.

In the manifesto, Jagan promised that his government will address the issue of unemployment, but the YSRCP dispensation had failed to attract any major investments or big investor to Andhra Pradesh despite the state having enormous potential for attracting domestic and foreign investments. On the contrary, Jagan had scared away big investors with a slew of policy decisions which were driven largely by political vendetta against his bete noire former chief minister and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu rather than political wisdom. Adani Group’s solar-powered data storage and technology park remains in a limbo, United Arab Emirates-based conglomerate Lulu Group is not keen on fresh investments in Andhra Pradesh, while Reliance Group had once threatned to withdraw its investment proposal to build mega electronics manufacturing project in Tirupati.

Ambassadors France, Canada Japan and some renewable energy developers had taken up the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising concerns over Andhra Pradesh government’s move to reverse some big contracts entered into by the previous TDP regime. “Many foreign investors, including Japanese companies, are now watching closely the situation unfolding in your state regarding the renewable energy sector,” Japanese ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu wrote to Jagan in August last year. Hiramatsu only reflects the fear of many big investors.

However, to score political brownie points, Jagan had undid the good work done by Naidu to promte AP as ‘sunrise state’ by cancelling contracts for key projects sanctioned during the previous TDP government, put on hold works related to Amaravati capital city project, several irrigation and infrastructure sectors were halted hurting the investor confidence.

The one year rule has severely undermined the democratic institutions and subverted parliamentary democracy by his authoritarian rule. In the one year, the Jagan government was caught in a vortex of legal disputes. Jagan and his team had to cut a sorry face in more than 60 legal disputes, which is a record set by any state government in losing court cases. The state government’s ordinance to remove Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as State Election Commissioner is a grim pointer to how Jagan and his team have tried to destroy constitutional bodies like the State Election Commission.

The one year YSRCP governance has been disastrous on many fronts — exposing Jagan and his cabinet’s hollow governance abilities and their complete lack of grasp on the economy. None of the big promises were honoured. Jagan and his team clearly seemed out of their depth in the face of the slowdown and inability to attract investments. The corona virus pandemic crisis has gone horribly wrong with the state administration dealing with it ineffectively.

In the one year, Jagan’s government has had to face setbacks in the High Court. In what is being regarded as a knock-out punch on the face of Jagan’s government, the High Court started contempt proceedings for violating the court directive to remove colours on government buildings and panchayat offices. The High Court had struck down the government’s move to make English medium compulsory in government schools in AP, scrapped the GO to increase reservations to BCs, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the local bodies from 27% to 34%. Further, the High Court had revoked the suspension orders against senior police officer A B Venkateswara Rao and directed the Jagan government to reinstate him. All these court verdicts and the immediate reaction from the state government implies Jagan and his team lack respect for courts. In most cases, the government exhibited its defiant mode.

In the one year, the Andhra Pradesh police, Central Investigation Department (CID) and the bureaucracy have been politicised and the judiciary plunged into the most existential threat. The one year Jagan’s rule is also an attack on human rights.

Senior doctor Sudhakar Rao is a classic example of how rights are being brazenly violated in AP. Sudhakar Rao, the civil assistant surgeon of Narsipatnam area hospital, was suspended for raising voice of dissent regarding the shortage of masks and other medical equipment like PPEs in government hospitals. He was later detained by the police for allegedly causing nuisance on a main road in Visakhapatnam and was sent to Government Hospital for Mental Health, where he was under treatment for acute and transient psychosis. Dr Sudhakar Rao was dragged on the streets, his shirt removed, his both hands tied with a rope while a constable repeatedly delivered blows with his lathi. Journalists and media houses who refuse to toe the line of the YSRCP regime have been harassed.

In the coming years. we’ll see how the struggle between the Jagan’s authoritarian tendencies and the strength of independent democratic institutions and constitutional authorities that protect the rule of law plays out.

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