From NTR statue to Park Hyatt residence: Naidu's spending adds to Andhra's profligacy problem

Now, one more mega project is lined up for the extravaganza of the cash-strapped government of truncated Andhra Pradesh.

The state government will install a humongous statue of NT Rama Rao in Amaravati, the new capital. The statue will be 115.5-foot (35 metres) tall, commemorating the 35th year of the Telugu Desam Party's (TDP) formation. The project is christened as 'Inspiration of Telugu Pride'. One may recall that NTR floated the TDP “to safeguard the Telugu Pride”, striking an emotional chord with the people.

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu announced this at the Mahanadu, the annual jamboree of the TDP marking the 94th birth anniversary of its founder at Tirupati.

Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu. AP

Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu. AP

This is the next big statue project the government has embarked on, after creating a Buddhist centre, an Ambedkar museum and a 125-foot-tall statue of BR Ambedkar that was estimated to cost Rs 250 crore.

Going by these standards, the NTR statue project, which according to Naidu should be a symbol of inspiration to visitors, will cost anywhere around the same amount. The grandeur of the project can't be beyond anybody’s imagination, for Chandrababu Naidu almost defied NTR, recalling the late legendary actor’s powerful on-screen performances, and said that his statue would inspire and bless anybody who wanted to embark on a new task.

Chandrababu Naidu waxed eloquent about NTR to such an extent that he stopped short of saying that he was God. Is this a knee-jerk reaction to the backlash of christening about 15 government schemes after Chandranna (Naidu himself), which were partially rescinded later? The answer is anybody’s guess.

Adding to the profligacy is Chandrababu Naidu's decision to move his family into a three-bedroom service apartment in the five-star property of Park Hyatt, located in the upmarket Banjara Hills in Hyderabad.

A casual enquiry by Firstpost about the rental apartment revealed that a swanky three-bedroom service apartment would cost a whopping Rs 6.75 lakh a month, excluding service tax. An executive of Park Hyatt in Hyderabad responded to a phone call and said that there were two three-bedroom service apartments, and both were “not available at the moment.” A two-bedroom service apartment would cost Rs 5.25 lakh in Park Hyatt. Service apartments in this hotel can be booked only if the minimum stay is for a month.

These opulent service apartments are fully-furnished and equipped with a kitchen that has a functioning dishwasher. If food and beverages are sourced from the hotel, that would cost extra. It is not clear whether the chief minister’s family had taken both the three-bedroom apartments. Efforts to find out whether the security personnel were provided with any facility there did not materialise.

Considering the profile of the chief minister's family, the cost of the stay can be easily calculated. If the family members of an NSG-protected high-profile politico in office, avail 24/7 security and other expenses, the cost would zoom through the roof.

YSR Congress (YSRC) party’s nominee for the Rajya Sabha elections and YSRC general secretary V Vijay Sai Reddy described it as reckless extravagance of public money. “Where is the necessity for the chief minister and his family to stay in a star hotel, where access for the common man is totally denied? How do they justify this? And at whose cost are they staying there? When a chief minister and his family stay in a star hotel, naturally the expenditure is borne by the government. Whose money is it? Isn’t it public money,” Sai Reddy asked.

A few days ago, the Chairman of Public Accounts Committee of AP Legislative Assembly, B Rajendranath Reddy listed out the various ways of squandering of public money by the Chandrababu Naidu government. He pegged the expenditure on the temporary and permanent offices and residences of the chief minister in Hyderabad and the new capital at Rs 250 crore to Rs 350 crore

Representational image. AFP.

Representational image. AFP.

The BJP in the state, which is of late at loggerheads with the TDP, through one of its proxies had the improvidence listed on a Facebook page. Though the veracity of the figures published in this are subject to verification, almost all the opposition parties are crying hoarse over the spendthrift behavior of Chandrababu Naidu.

The post listed out the expenses, including the refurbishment of the CMO twice in the Hyderabad secretariat, the camp office at Lake View Guest House, the shifting of his residence to another location in Jubilee Hills, from there to Madinaguda farmhouse, and from there to Park Hyatt owing to different reasons. The amount is estimated to be at Rs 42 crore. It also enlisted the expenditure in making or renovating the temporary camp offices and residences of the chief minister in Vijayawada.

Chandrababu Naidu’s use of a chartered aircraft and splashing of funds to overseas consultants for the construction of the new capital city and the conduct of various functions associated with it have all been enumerated by the opposition. It is high time the government came up with a statement of expenses and contained its ways of going for the overkill, especially when it is fighting with the Centre for financial support and for special category status to the state, which have been elusive.

Updated Date: May 30, 2016 13:43 PM

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