The results of the Telangana Assembly election will be known on Tuesday, and exit polls have largely predicted that the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) will return to power.
India's youngest state is under a huge burden of public debt. Telangana's caretaker chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) told the Assembly in March that the state's debt stood at Rs 1.42 trillion. The Opposition parties, however, claimed during the poll campaign that this was Rs 2.5 trillion.
This, however, has not stopped the ruling party Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) from making even grander poll promises than in 2014. For example, the government is spending Rs 130 billion a year on pensions alone but with all the main parties promising to hike the pension amount, it is estimated that the allocation will have to be doubled.
The ruling party also assured that financial assistance to farmers as input subsidy under 'Rythu Bandhu' scheme will be increased from Rs 8,000 per acre per year to Rs 10,000.
Perhaps the TRS is making such tall poll promises despite the climbing public debt because it is under fire from not just the Opposition but also from a section of the people for not fulfilling most of the promises made in 2014.
KCR in 2014 had promised to transform Telangana into Bangaru Telangana (golden Telangana), the most farmer-friendly state in India. Agriculture provides a livelihood, as IndiaSpend had reported, to more than 55.5 percent of the state’s population. But four-and-a-half years since it won statehood, Telangana faces acute farm distress, with 2,190 farmers having committed suicide — more than one every day — according to data from the state government’s police department. Telangana had the third-highest farmer suicides in the country after Maharashtra and Karnataka in 2015.
Among other promises, Rythu Bandhu, a Rs 12,000 crore scheme, gives Rs 8,000 per acre (in two equal instalments) as input support to farmers. Rythu Bima, a life insurance scheme, provides compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family on a farmer’s death, irrespective of the cause.
But both these schemes can only be availed of by farmers who have land titles reflected in government records. A large category of farmers — tenant farmers, women farmers without titles, ‘Podu’ farmers who have been farming on forest lands for many years without titles, those farming on endowment lands as tenants and Scheduled Tribes who have not received titles under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) — are excluded. A large section of farmers also say that the money offered is also inadequate.
Livemint also reported that many farmers across Telangana were complaining that the farm loan waivers of up to Rs 1 lakh that was promised by TRS either never came or they did not benefit from it.
Another major promise that remained unfulfilled was the issue of employment. While KCR had promised to create 1,00,000 jobs, according to a report titled ‘Unemployment in India – A statistical profile’ prepared by the Bombay Stock Exchange and Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, Telangana had the third-highest level of unemployment among graduates in the country.
KCR had also promised providing 2,00,000 double bedroom houses for the poor. "I have applied for a two-bedroom house to the state government four times, but nothing has come of it. Last election, I voted for Telangana, but I don’t know this time," Livemint quoted B Nagaiah, a native of Ramachandragudem village in Nalgonda district, as saying.
India Today had further reported that some of the other 2014 poll promises which KCR had not fulfilled included granting three acres to poor Dalit families, setting up 21 'super specialty' hospitals in the 21 new districts, and opening 100-bedded hospitals in each Assembly segment.
Some other promises which remained largely on paper and had not been implemented included 12 percent reservation for Muslims, free education from kindergarten to post-graduation, rejuvenating the Musi river and cleaning the Hussainsagar lake in Hyderabad.
Of course, it's not all grim. The Telangana government began supplying 24/7 free power to farmers since 1 January this year. This move had also been praised by eminent agriculture scientist MS Swaminathan.
The TRS government's 'free saree distribution scheme' has boosted production since last one year, giving a fillip to the power loom industry in the Sircilla constituency.
Overall, however, TRS clearly failed to fulfill many of its promises made in 2014. It remains to be seen how this will impact the Assembly election results.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Dec 10, 2018 20:12 PM