Politics

Chandrababu Naidu’s Grand Wish List from Centre: Building Andhra’s Lasting Legacy

In his inaugural address to the Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly on June 22, after taking office as chief minister for the fourth time, Nara Chandrababu Naidu made it clear that he is determined to make a lasting impact during what he has declared will be his final term. Naidu’s main goals include completing the construction of Amaravati, a greenfield capital project he had initiated in his previous term (2014-2019) but which was halted by his successor Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy. Additionally, he aims to finish the long-pending Polavaram irrigation and power project on the Godavari river.

Naidu has been particularly eager to push forward with the Polavaram project, continuing his habit from his previous term of conducting site visits on Mondays, even visiting the site on the first Monday after taking office. To achieve his objectives for Amaravati and Polavaram, Naidu is seeking financial assistance from the Union Budget 2024. He needs funds to complete key infrastructure projects in Amaravati and annual grants to finish the Polavaram project.

However, Naidu faces significant challenges beyond these projects. One major issue is funding the “Super Six” welfare promises he made during his election campaign, which will require substantial spending from the state budget. Another challenge is managing the inherited welfare schemes from Jagan Reddy’s administration, known as ‘Navaratnalu,’ some of which the new Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government is modifying or discontinuing. These combined efforts imply a heavy fiscal burden on the state’s finances.

During pre-budget consultations, Andhra Pradesh’s finance minister, Payyavula Keshav, presented the state’s financial requests to Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi. Among the key requests were a grant of Rs 15,000 crore for Amaravati and additional funds to expedite the Polavaram project. Keshav emphasized the state’s focus on progressive capital expenditure and infrastructure development, seeking comprehensive support from the central government.

Andhra Pradesh argues that it deserves central support due to its unique economic situation following the 2014 state reorganization and the financial difficulties left by the previous administration. The Naidu government is also keen on securing central grants for various stalled infrastructure projects, including the Ramayapatnam port, an integrated steel plant in Kadapa, a crude oil refinery, a new railway zone, industrial parks, and several other major development initiatives. The state also seeks liberal funding for ongoing projects.

Keshav expressed optimism about the central government’s support, noting that the Union finance minister has shown a positive attitude towards Andhra Pradesh’s needs. Naidu, in his first state cabinet meeting on June 24, decided to release several white papers, including one on the state’s finances, to explain how the previous government had created a financial crisis.

On June 22, Naidu urged the TDP parliamentary party to prioritize the development of Andhra Pradesh as their main agenda when they went to Delhi for the new Lok Sabha session. He encouraged them to attract top companies, universities, and hospitals to set up operations in Andhra Pradesh to boost the state’s industrial sector, create jobs, and increase the gross state domestic product (GSDP). Naidu is keen on establishing a strong legacy and ensuring a smooth transition of leadership to his son, Nara Lokesh, which hinges on his ability to secure central assistance and timely clearances for external investments and borrowings.

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