"Reverse and reverse tendering" became the buzzwords both in the corridors of power and outside in the first 100 days of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy's government in Andhra Pradesh.
Mr. Jagan would take pains to explain, at every public function and to every visitor who calls on him, how the concept of "reverse tendering" would effectively bring in transparency, check corruption and save resources for a fragile exchequer.
Having got a massive mandate, is he not entitled to take such decisions? Is it fair to jump to a conclusion without giving him sufficient time and see how these concepts work when they are put into practice? Critics have used these phrases and some of the policy decisions he has taken during these first 100 days to ridicule and demonise him, with some even using 'reverse' as a prefix to his name.
Quite uncharitable given the fact that he has been there only for three months learning the ropes of administration that has over a period of time become all but moribund and insensitive to people's needs and their aspirations. Why should one not take them as refreshing ideas, far removed from a status quo approach? Just because he had no previous administrative experience, should he and his ideas be written off as bad? Yes, he is facing corruption charges in a court, but should it deter him from turning a new leaf and take decisions in tune with the mandate?
Mr. Jagan's decisions apart from reverse tendering were indeed radical, some good, some disruptive and some very controversial.
"Amma Vodi", financial assistance of ₹15,000 to mothers who send their children to schools; ₹12,500 of first instalment for farmers, hike in pensions to the elderly and others, have all become a big hit, so was Spandana, a public grievance programme. These and 50% reservation for weaker sections in nominated posts showed that welfare would be the leitmotif of his rule, come what may and even if it is at the expense of development and overall economy.
Seen in this context, the government seems to be not so worried about certain concerns that have crept in. Extending 75%reservation for local people in industries, review of Power Purchase Agreements and cancellation of Polavaram hydel project contract have triggered negative sentiment among the industrialists, investors, infrastructure builders and generally those who wish to make business with the State. Demolition of "Praja Vedika", to the exclusion of other structures on Krishna river bank, some would say, showed his vengeful side. His government's dilly-dallying over future of the capital Amaravati and allowing Ministers to make statements out of hand have only helped sow seeds of suspicion over the issue. It remains to be seen how misgivings are removed, leaving the politics aside.
It is nobody's case if the Government wants to pin down those responsible for corrupt deals in the past. The constitution of judicial commission is indeed thoughtful, but it looks credible only if the High Court can spare a sitting judge.
The launch of village and ward secretariat, some point out, may undermine the democratically elected local bodies and their representatives. Then the big question remains of how his Government would generate resources, so important for sustaining the long list of welfare schemes it has lined up, considering the first quarter's drop in expected revenue generation, the phased implementation of prohibition cutting further into it and no big support coming from the Centre.
In style of governance, Mr. Jagan seems to be adopting some elements from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and some from Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao. Like both of them, Mr. Jagan, it appears, prefers to do it all alone scrupulously avoiding meeting the media most of the time and move on disregarding criticism. One would have to only wait and watch to see more of Mr. Jagan.